UK abortion debate grows 40 years after first law allowing it
Over at another Reuters blog, Ask… , my London-based colleague Michael Holden has put the spotlight on a growing debate in Britain about the 40-year-old abortion law there. The law has come under increasing fire in recent years from anti-abortion activists, who say medical advances mean a foetus born before the 24-week limit can survive and the limit should therefore be reduced. At the same time, pro-abortion activists want to change the law to make it easier to obtain an abortion by dropping the requirement that two doctors agree to the procedure.
Michael’s post asks:
October 24th, 2007, filed by Michael Holden
The highly charged issue of abortion is once again becoming a hot political issue.
Ever since terminations were legalised in1967, there has been heated debate between those who argue that abortions are morally wrong and those who say it is a woman’s right to choose whether to have a baby.
Then there are the medical issues. Doctors support maintaining the 24-week upper limit for abortions, arguing that is the point at which a foetus is considered viable. However others say scientific advances mean this is no longer the case and this limit should be reduced.
Last year the number of abortions rose by 4 percent and Lord Steel, who brought forward the original Abortion Act as a young MP, has voiced his concern that there are too many terminations nowadays and some women are acting irresponsibly.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has also said he worries that people need to think harder about the consequences of their actions.
So should there be a change in the law? Or should people instead be given better advice and sex education to help them avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place?
– P.S. for FaithWorld — Two Catholic cardinals, Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of London and Keith O’Brien of Edinburgh, have also joined the debate. They issued a joint letter calling for a change in attitudes to help reduce the number of abortions. Here are the text (PDF) and a BBC story on it.