I was delighted to hear the Tory leadership candidate, Dr Liam Fox MP courageously stating his belief that abortion should be restricted to 12 weeks, but I was also interested to see that the headline in The Telegraph read "Fox courts religious Right with plea to limit abortion to 12 weeks". Support for a major restriction in the abortion limit is widespread. A year ago, a number of commentators, some in spite of supporting some abortions, called for a restriction to 12 weeks in response to the ultrasound images which clearly show the baby moving in the womb at 12 weeks. In July 2004, Tony Blair said that he would consider a review of abortion law in response to new medical findings, which made the front page of The Times.
Every day there are 500 abortions, so there is considerable urgency to review and change the abortion limit and protect these babies which are currently being terminated. There is considerable support for a restriction in the time limit and in the numbers of abortions. As long ago as April 2004, Jasper Gerard in The Times while remaining pro-choice, called for a restriction to 12 weeks, saying that although the proabortion lobby says that the majority of abortions are carried out before 12 weeks, there are still 22,000 abortions after 12 weeks (3,000 after 20 weeks). Mark Henderson, the science correspondent of The Times also stated that there was medical support for a restriction in abortion after 12 weeks. The Daily Mail compared all the European countries showing that the UK is out of step with Europe with one of the latest time limits for aborting babies. David Steel, who introduced the private member's bill which legalised abortion, was widely reported calling for a restriction of abortion to 12 weeks (front page The Times, 4th July 2004 and The Scotsman
Mary Seighart's reflections on how her views of abortion have changed are interesting - from support to when she carried a child herself and felt "queasier" about abortion, to shock at hearing Ellie Lee, coordinator of the pro-choice forum argue for abortion up to and including birth. She does not agree with the absolute prolife position and suggests that earlier abortions are better than late ones and suggests that the abortion limit should be reduced to 22 weeks (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1071-1172846,00.html
Mary Ann Sieghart, Abortion rights and wrongs are all a matter of timing July 09, 2004)
I think aborting babies earlier to avoid aborting them later cannot be right. But the fact is that there is a growing consensus that 12 weeks should be the limit for abortions. It wouldn't make sense to leave it at 22 weeks given that babies can be born and survive at 21 weeks and babies have also survived abortions at 18 weeks, and anyone looking at the ultrasound pictures at 16 weeks and 14 weeks would have to admit it isn't possible to detect any significant difference in the intrinsic humanity of the baby at these gestations. Late second and third trimester terminations are so horrific that they have never been shown on TV. They must be stopped. This should be such a basic issue of humanity that it cannot belong to either side of the political spectrum, no more than we would expect our political system to be divided into those who support and oppose torture. Every political party should defend the right of children to life.