Attempts at a sweeping liberalisation of Britain’s abortion laws have failed to reach a vote in the House of Commons.
Tonight’s debate marked the last chance for pro-abortion MPs to widen the laws using the current embryos Bill, but they did not succeed.
The Bill was the first real opportunity in almost 20 years for pro-life or pro-abortion MPs to alter Britain’s laws.
Despite vigorous attempts by both sides over the last few months, the laws have remained unchanged.
Pro-abortion MPs wanted to impose abortion on Northern Ireland despite public opposition and objections from the Province’s major political parties.
There were also plans to create abortion on demand by ending the law which requires two doctors to agree before an abortion can proceed and removing the requirement to assess the relative risks to a woman’s physical and mental health.
But none of the liberalising amendments were put to a vote tonight because MPs used up the allotted time by debating other details of the Government’s controversial embryos Bill.
Pro-abortion MPs angrily accused Government ministers of deliberately pushing the issue beyond the time limit. The Government was known to be keen to avoid votes on the issue.
Earlier this year pro-life MPs failed to lower the time limit for abortions from its current threshold of 24 weeks.
There is growing support for a reduction because an increasing number of babies born earlier than 24 weeks are surviving outside the womb with specialist care.
Pro-lifers also wanted to change the law to make sure women are given informed consent and a cooling-off period before making a decision about having an abortion.
Disability rights groups have also called for an end to the discriminatory laws which allow an abortion anytime before birth in the case of ‘serious handicap’.
‘Serious handicap’ has been interpreted to include treatable conditions such as a cleft palate or a club foot.
Seasoned observers say the abortion debates in Parliament before the summer were some of the most passionate of recent times.
Some journalists are reporting rumours that the abortion issue will come back to Parliament within the next two years, but the Government says it has no plans to introduce an abortion Bill.