weekly update, 20 to 26 June
26 June 2007
weekly update, 20 to 26 June The House of Commons science and technology committee is holding an inquiry into the current UK law on abortion. The cross-party committee is looking at issues such as the upper time limit for abortion, whether to abolish the need for two doctors to sign abortion referral forms, the possibility of defining 'severe disability' in case of abortion on grounds of disability, and the feasibility of allowing nurses and midwives to perform first trimester abortions. The committee has asked for written evidence to be submitted by 2 September and will hold oral evidence sessions in the autumn. [Telegraph, 21 June , and Select Committee on Science and Technology, 20 June ] Paul Tully, general secretary of SPUC, said: "The Science and Technology Committee has been angling for a long time to get the Abortion Act 'opened up' on the floor of the house. They know that this will lead to radical pro-abortion amendments, which will be tacitly welcomed by a Blair/Brown government. This is now a very grave danger if any abortion amendments are attached to the forthcoming Human Tissue and Embryos bill." It was recently reported that Mr Tony Blair was to convert to Catholicism. Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, commented: "I'm sure that many Catholics, including SPUC members, keenly hope and pray for Mr Blair's repentance and conversion to the Catholic Church's view that human life is to be protected by law from the time of conception. Mr Blair voted three times to permit abortion up to birth before he became prime minister. As PM he has promoted the practice of secret abortions for schoolgirls without their parents being informed; he has encouraged use of the morning-after pill, which the manufacturers say may cause early abortions. He has championed destructive research on human embryos in the laboratory. Last year his government launched an appeal for a global fund to promote abortion for the poorest people around the world. SPUC as an organisation has no religious or political affiliation. For many years we have called on the prime minister to repudiate his anti-life position, and we continue to do so. We would be very concerned at the impact on Muslims and their commitment to the pro-life cause if Mr Blair became a Muslim. We have similar concern for the impact on Christians if Mr Blair joins the Catholic church without publicly repudiating his publicly professed pro-abortion and pro-IVF positions." [SPUC, 22 June ] A British health minister, Caroline Flint, has welcomed the increase in early abortions and the use of the morning-after pill. She said "We welcome the fact that a higher percentage of abortions are taking place at an early stage ... we have invested £8 million to improve early access [to abortion]..." She admitted the government needed to do more to reduce the number of so-called unwanted pregnancies and called for an improvement in access to contraception. [Times 19 June ] It has been suggested that the increase in abortions has been fuelled by immigration from eastern European countries. This immigration has led to a significant rise in the UK birth-rate in recent years and, according to Ann Furedi, chief executive of Britain's largest abortion-provider, it "would be surprising if East European immigration wasn't having an impact on abortion as well". Dr Kate Guthrie of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, disagrees, pointing out that the biggest increase in abortions was among the under-20s, whereas most women from Eastern Europe were in their 20s. [Guardian, 22 June ] Ireland's Life Pregnancy Care Service will not have its funding withdrawn despite standing firm on its policy not to provide information about foreign abortion facilities. The Crisis Pregnancy Agency, who provide Life with annual funding of around €300,000, insists on organisations it funds providing clients with information about how to obtain an abortion abroad, but has reached a settlement with Life that will allow it to continue with its ethical stance on abortion. [Irish Examiner, 26 June ] Patrick Buckley of European Life Network, Dublin, said: "This is the second time the CPA has attempted to force a pro-life agency to refer women on to other agencies which will provide information on abortion services. The CPA was set up to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies and thereby the numbers of women seeking abortions abroad. Its policies however seem to continually run counter to their brief and the Irish constitution by insisting that all counselling agencies provide information on abortion services abroad."