Abortion is a sensitive and emotive issue and I respect that there are strongly held views on all sides of the debate.
My personal belief is that those who want one should have the right to choose a safe, legal abortion in all areas of the UK.
It remains the case that except in very limited circumstances – for example, if the mother’s life is at risk – the vast majority of abortions in Great Britain are carried out before 24 weeks. The latest official statistics available show that the percentage of abortions performed at 20 weeks and over decreased from 2% in 2019 to 1% in 2020. Abortions where gestation was 24 weeks or over accounted for just 0.1% of the total number performed. In contrast, 88% took place at under ten weeks.
The Government has confirmed that it has no plans to bring forward legislative proposals to reduce the abortion time limit. It advises that officials regularly review new evidence on foetal viability and that currently, there is no clear consensus from the medical profession that the age of viability has reduced below 24 weeks.
I am aware that the British Medical Association has said that viability – which takes into account gestation, as well as aspects such as birth weight and underlying medical conditions – is just one factor when considering the abortion time limit. It states it believes it is critical that women are “given the time to make the right decision for them, whether to continue or end a much wanted pregnancy in the second or third trimester, when a diagnosis of a serious or fatal fetal abnormality is made.”
I believe that a woman’s right to choose is a human rights matter and that no one takes abortion lightly. What is more, I believe that every woman deserves access to safe and legal health procedures, and that includes abortion.
I never take any decision that will impact on abortion rights lightly and am always open to a healthy and respectful dialogue. Ultimately I believe abortion should be safe, legal and rare.
As your representative in Parliament, I will continue to bear in mind the points you have raised.