The 24-week abortion limit should be cut, according to Maria Caulfied, the Conservative Party’s Vice Chair for Women.
In an interview with The House magazine, Caulfield called for a debate to about lowering the upper abortion limit. She said the current limit was introduced, “at a time when babies were not really viable at 24 weeks”.
The 1967 Abortion Act allows women in Scotland, England and Wales to have an abortion from up to 24 weeks, as long as it is signed off by two doctors.
Caulfield continued, “We’ve got one of the most liberal abortion laws in the world, and if you look at the abortion debate that’s happening in Ireland at the moment where they’re about to have a referendum later this year, they’re only looking at termination up to 12 weeks.”
“I think we need to have that debate.”
“I’m not someone who’s hard and fast in any of those kinds of views.”
“But I think we do need to have a debate.”
“The 24-week limit was introduced at a time when babies were really not viable at 24 weeks.”
“Now babies who are born premature grow up to live long, healthy lives like the rest of us.”
Caulfield, who is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro Life Group, was appointed as the Conservative’s Vice Chair for Women in January. However, the appointment was not without controversy, with women’s rights groups criticising the move.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said it was “shocked” and “incredibly disappointed” by the decision to appoint Caulfield into the role; Labour MP Diana Johnson said it was “really depressing; and feminist author, Judith Orr tweeted, “We need to defend and extend our abortion rights not allow them to be snatched back by Tory bigots.”
Speaking about Caulfield’s latest comments, a spokesperson for the Women’s Equality Party said, “It makes a mockery of the Conservatives’ supposed commitment to equality that the MP in charge of reaching out to women wants to roll back their rights.”
“Women need more control over their own bodies, not less.”
“We know that only a tiny proportion of abortions take place at a later stage – and that there are often complicated reasons, such as health concerns or domestic violence, behind those decisions.”
“Any update to legislation must recognise that abortion is a matter for medical professionals, not the criminal justice system.”
“That is why the Women’s Equality Party is calling for abortion to be decriminalised.”
“Women will never have equality until they have full control over their own bodies.”