The Human Tissue and Embryology Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords on Monday of this week. The bill has opened up the possibility of the law on abortion being amend.
It is expected that an amendment will be tabled seeking to lower the time limit for abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks.
Women seeking late abortions are a tiny minority. Often they are young and scared to admit to their pregnancy, have mental health problems, or are older women who mistake pregnancy for the menopause.
A cut in the time limit would prevent the most vulnerable women from accessing abortion.
Anne Quesney, director of Abortion Rights, told Socialist Worker, “This is the time to get people mobilised to defend a woman’s right to choose. We need to make sure that MPs hear from their constituents – people should lobby their MPs to vote to support abortion rights”.
The bill also presents the opportunity to improve access to abortion.
The Science and Technology Select Committee, which has put forward recommendations relating to the bill, argues that the requirement for two doctors to agree an abortion should be removed and that, subject to training, “nurses (and midwives) could be permitted to carry out early surgical abortions”.
“A lot of the time we have been focused on resisting attacks on the existing abortion law, and have been quite
defensive,” said Anne. “But now we have the chance to make some real positive changes in women’s lives and we need to go on the offensive.
“Abortion Rights will be working closely with trade unions and students – motions can be downloaded from our website to pass in union branches. We hope to organise lobbies of parliament and will be producing briefing packs that people can use to campaign.”
Votes on the bill and amendments are expected early next year. There is an urgent need to build a campaign for abortion rights.
Resources and further information can be downloaded from Abortion Rights. Go to » www.abortionrights.org.uk