Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Bid to cut abortion time limit fails in Commons

The Westminster Government has batted away a campaign to reduce the time limit for abortions.

Tory MP Nadine Dorries held a debate yesterday, calling for the limit to be cut from 24 to 20 weeks.

But Health Minister Anna Soubry told her: “The Government have no plans to bring about a change to the time at which an abortion can be carried out. I want to stress that point again, so I repeat: we have no plans to review the Abortion Act 1967.”

DUP MPs joined the debate yesterday, in Westminster Hall, to highlight their opposition to any abortion in all but life-threatening situations.

Strangford MP Jim Shannon said: “If there was the option of bringing in Northern Ireland’s abortion laws, I would be pleading with everyone in this House to do just that.”

He claimed Northern Ireland had the lowest maternal death rate in the United Kingdom, pointing to a study suggesting a high survival rate among babies born between 22 and 25 weeks.

When challenged on his use of statistics by Labour MP Kate Green, he responded: “Life is life as far as I am concerned; that is where I am coming from.”

Belfast North MP Nigel Dodds said the recent opening of a Marie Stopes clinic in Northern Ireland was “an attempt to stretch the law, or even to get behind it”.

But Ms Dorries disagreed, saying Marie Stopes was concerned only for the health of the woman.

“If Northern Ireland is to have an abortion provider, Marie Stopes are the people to have,” she added.

Alliance’s Naomi Long claimed proposed benefits curbs on households with more than two children could lead to an increase in abortions.

However, this was rejected by Ms Soubry.

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