An attempt by MPs to introduce abortion on demand in England and Wales by amending the Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill has failed.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, did not select Labour MP Diana Johnson’s amendment to repeal Sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
And while Johnson’s other amendment attempting to legalise home abortions was selected for debate, it was withdrawn after opposition from MPs. However, the Government announced it would consult on making DIY abortion pills available permanently.
Abortion on demand
Johnson had sought to make abortion available for any reason in England and Wales. The existing requirement for the consent of two doctors would have been abolished.
Her attempt to legalise home abortions where there are allegations of domestic abuse also failed. It was strongly opposed, even by MPs who are not pro-life, forcing Johnson to withdraw it.
During the debate, Fiona Bruce said: “This is a domestic abuse Bill; it should not be hijacked by those continuously campaigning on another issue and constantly looking for opportunities in this place to add badly worded amendments to Bills with unforeseen implications and complications.”
Alex Stafford MP said: “Disturbingly, the new clause does not have a gestation period limit and is not limited to medical abortion. In terms of addressing domestic abuse, as we have heard, the new clause could in fact worsen the very problem that it tries to address.”
The Domestic Abuse Bill completed its passage through the Commons last night and will now be considered by the House of Lords.
However, Minister for Women Victoria Atkins MP announced that emergency abortion measures introduced because of the coronavirus pandemic could become permanent.
In March, the Department of Health and Social Care released guidelines which said a woman could have an abortion at home for any reason up to ten weeks after an e-consultation or phone conversation with a doctor.
The Government said the measure would last up to two years or until the pandemic was over, whichever came first, but has now said it will hold a consultation on the issue and consider allowing the changes to remain.
The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director Ciarán Kelly approached the mixed news with caution.
He said: “It is of course excellent that these dreadful amendments have been dropped and that abortion law will not be liberalised at this time. But we are not out of the woods yet.
“A number of MPs are doing their utmost to progress their pro-abortion agenda, and it is disappointing to see the Government considering making the temporary DIY abortion guidelines permanent.
“It has already changed its mind on the issue once – after it said it would not make changes. It looks like doing it again by trying to make the ‘temporary’ changes permanent. It is vital that Christians respond in numbers when the consultation is announced.”