Anti life agenda feared under new health secretary, says SPUC
28 June 2007
Anti-life agenda feared under new health secretary, says SPUC Westminster, 28th June 2007 - The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) fears that Mr Alan Johnson MP, the new health secretary, will support wider provision of abortion and other anti-life practices. Soon after becoming a member of parliament in 1997, Mr Johnson signed two parliamentary motions, one defending an alleged "woman's right to choose" abortion and another condemning "restrictive abortion laws". In 2000, Mr Johnson voted in favour of destructive stem cell research on cloned embryonic children. In 2004, Mr Johnson voted against pro-life amendments to the Mental Capacity Act, which enshrined in statute law euthanasia by omission. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "We fear that, if abortion is introduced into the debate when the government's draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill comes before parliament, the government will give at least tacit support to amendments to extend abortion provision. Whether or not the government grants a free vote to backbench MPs, past parliamentary experience proves that signals of the government's opinion heavily influences the way backbench MPs vote. Pro-life parliamentarians should therefore not attempt to open up the abortion law on the floor of Parliament whilst a government-backed pro-abortion majority holds sway, lest there be a repeat of the 1990 defeat of the pro-life lobby." Note: The last attempt to lower the upper limit for abortion in 1990, led to Parliament legalising abortion up to birth in the case of disability and for other reasons. Even the general 24 week time limit was an increase over the previous limit. That previous limit had been the moment in each case when the child reached the stage of being "capable of being born alive" (Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929). The Court in the C v S case declared that this meant that the child must be capable of sustaining life as well as being born alive. However, as is widely known, many children have been born before 24 weeks and survived. Therefore, children who would have been capable of being born alive were protected by the pre-1990 law but because of the HFE Act they are now not protected.