Call to con­sider abor­tion equal to birth con­trol

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

LON­DON: Abor­tion should be re­garded as no more than an­other form of birth con­trol, the head of one of Bri­tain’s big­gest abor­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions says.

Ter­mi­na­tion of a preg­nancy should not be seen as ex­cep­tional but merely as “birth con­trol that women need when their reg­u­lar method lets them down”, Ann Furedi of the Bri­tish Preg­nancy Ad­vi­sory Ser­vice said.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion, which car­ries out 60 000 abor­tions a year, called for an end to re­stric­tions af­ter car­ry­ing out re­search that showed half of all the women who went to its clin­ics were us­ing con­tra­cep­tion when they be­came preg­nant. Nearly one in four were on the pill or sim­i­lar hor­monal con­tra­cep­tion, or were us­ing sup­pos­edly highly ef­fec­tive long-act­ing re­versible meth­ods such as im­plants, in­jec­tions or IUDs, the preg­nancy ad­vi­sory ser­vice said in a re­port.

Push­ing for abor­tion to be con­sid­ered an­other form of con­tra­cep­tion would call into ques­tion the law gov­ern­ing the ter­mi­na­tion of preg­nancy for the past 50 years in the UK.

The 1967 Abor­tion Act says abor­tion is a crime un­less ap­proved by two doc­tors and in cases where there is a risk to the health of the woman or her chil­dren. Since 1990, there has been a time limit of 24 weeks’ ges­ta­tion, af­ter which a ter­mi­na­tion can only be car­ried out if there is a grave threat to life or of se­vere foetal ab­nor­mal­ity.

Last year, there were 185 596 abor­tions among women who lived in Eng­land and Wales un­der the terms of the law.

The new ini­tia­tive for abor­tion on de­mand fol­lows the vote by doc­tors at the Bri­tish Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence last month to de­crim­i­nalise abor­tion. That would make abor­tion freely avail­able and could lead to the abo­li­tion of the 24-week limit and an in­crease in late stage abor­tion.

Furedi said le­galised abor­tion was nec­es­sary in or­der to al­low women to con­trol their fer­til­ity. “When you en­cour­age women to use con­tra­cep­tion, you give them the sense they can con­trol their fer­til­ity, but if you do not pro­vide safe abor­tion ser­vices when that con­tra­cep­tion fails, you are do­ing them a great dis­ser­vice,” she said. “Our data show women can­not con­trol their fer­til­ity through con­tra­cep­tion alone, even when they are us­ing some of the most ef­fec­tive meth­ods.”

She said: “Fam­ily plan­ning is con­tra­cep­tion and abor­tion. Abor­tion is birth con­trol women need when their reg­u­lar method lets them down.”

The re­port pressed for an ex­ten­sion of the 24-week limit. It said women who used con­tra­cep­tion were less likely to re­alise they were preg­nant at an early stage. But calls for an end to the 24-week rule come as med­i­cal ev­i­dence has shown ba­bies born even ear­lier in preg­nancy are sur­viv­ing with­out dis­abil­ity.

The new pres­sure for abor­tion to be avail­able as freely as con­doms pro­voked alarm among pro-life MPs and cam­paign­ers. Maria Caulfield, Con­ser­va­tive MP for Lewes, said: “I strongly dis­agree that abor­tion should be used as a form of birth con­trol. When a foe­tus is vi­able af­ter 20 weeks, it can­not be right that they can be aborted so eas­ily.”

Anti-abor­tion cam­paigner Lord Al­ton of Liver­pool ac­cused the Bri­tish Preg­nancy Ad­vi­sory Ser­vice of try­ing to “cap­i­talise on re­cent weak­ness of the gov­ern­ment sur­round­ing abor­tion”.

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May headed off a back­bench Tory re­bel­lion last month by or­der­ing the Na­tional Health Ser­vice in Eng­land should pro­vide free abor­tions for women liv­ing in North­ern Ire­land where abor­tion re­mains ef­fec­tively il­le­gal.

Lord Al­ton said “de­mand­ing the abil­ity to kill vi­able ba­bies later in preg­nancy is un­con­scionable and redo­lent of a vi­o­lent ide­ol­ogy that no civilised so­ci­ety should en­ter­tain”. Mark Bhag­wandin, of anti-abor­tion coun­selling char­ity Life, said: “Fi­nally, an ad­mis­sion by the abor­tion in­dus­try that it sees abor­tion as birth con­trol. It is an ab­hor­rent and morally re­pug­nant idea.” – Daily Mail

‘Women can­not con­trol fer­til­ity only through con­tra­cep­tion’

CHOICE MAT­TERS: A Bri­tish Preg­nancy Ad­vi­sory Ser­vice re­port states that abor­tion is birth con­trol women need when reg­u­lar meth­ods fail.

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