Nadine Dorries MP: Why 20 and not 22 weeks?
Nadine Dorries is MP for Mid Bedfordshire and is author of a popular blog. She writes today about her cross-party campaign to reduce the upper limit for abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks.
I have 20 reasons why I think the abortion limit should be reduced to 20 weeks. Viability - the age at which a foetus can survive outside of the womb - is only one of them.
The Trent study that has been in the headlines recently and appears to advocate 22 weeks is flawed. To begin with, some of Trent's data is twelve years old. There is only one lesson to be learnt from the Trent study and that is if you are about to go into premature labour, don’t do it in Trent!
The reason 22 weekers are not always surviving in the UK has everything to do with the fact that each neo natal unit had to close its doors an average 52 times over the last year (National Audit Office, Caring for Vulnerable Babies, The Reorganisation Of Neo Natal Services In England, 19th December 2007, pg 24 Para. 3.3). The units are understaffed, and as Bliss say, if we had dedicated neo natal transfer ambulances and well-staffed units - as they do in Sweden and other countries - we would begin to see a much healthier picture.
It's about the service the NHS provides to 22 weekers which prevents them from living, not their ability with the right treatment to make it through.
Look at individual hospitals with good neo natal units and you see an entirely different picture from the one painted by Trent. Trent has averaged out all births from all hospitals and does not take into account how long it took some of the babies to reach a specialist unit.
But as I have said, viability is only one reason for 20 weeks. As we know, premature births happen as a result of a poorly baby or mother – aborted babies are by and large healthy babies and therefore cannot be compared.
Some are quoting the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) in support of not lowering the upper limit for abortions.
The RCOG guideline committee recommends keeping 24 weeks. Almost every member of the guideline committee has a professional or financial interest in the abortion industry and has been strongly advised by the government to reform and become more diverse in its composition.
I believe the procedure used to abort over 20 weeks is enough to make any compassionate person think that it's time to reduce the limit.
The RCOG issue guidelines state that, from 19 weeks of pregnancy, the baby needs to be - and I can't think of a gentler way of saying this - put to death in the womb before it is delivered. This is necessary in case it lives and it is a procedure known as foeticide. Late surgical abortions mean that a baby is dismembered in the womb, and removed limb by limb, head often last.
Professor Sunni Anand, incredibly well respected and acknowledged as the world's leading expert in foetal pain, believes that a foetus feels pain as early as 18 weeks gestation. Before the dismembering takes place, the baby is injected with a lethal injection of Potassium into its heart, via the mother's abdominal wall. I will leave it to you to imagine how much distress and pain this may cause the baby.
So, on the one hand the pro-abortionists argue that a baby can't live below 22 weeks, and on the other they deploy 'just-in-case' techniques.
And how about the fact that we know that three quarters of all women and two thirds of GPs want twenty weeks and not 22? Do they not have voice? Is that not our job as MPs to represent their will in Parliament?
Or that Doctors perform operations, sometimes life saving on babies as low as 20 weeks whilst still in the womb, such as happened with baby Samuel in the picture below. Cutting the limit to 20 weeks will save thousands of lives, but to 22 weeks, only hundreds.
We need clear blue water between at what point a baby may survive if born and the upper limit. That’s why it needs to be 20 weeks and not 21. There are exceptional cases of 21 weekers living such as Millie McDonough in Manchester. It needs to be 20, not 21, not 22 not 23, but 20. This would be a clear delineation, remove all doubt and facilitate an end to surgically dismembering human life.
As Professor Anand said, "legislation is just a snap shot in time, but science is like an ever rolling movie."
The fact is that it may be another 20 years before we have the opportunity to revisit this legislation. How many babies will die in that time?
22 weeks will ensure we remain the abortion capital of Europe. We already have the highest upper limit as it is: France 12, Germany 12, Italy 12, Belgium 12, Bulgaria 12, Denmark 12, Czech Republic 12, Greece 12, Hungary 12, Luxembourg 12, the Netherlands 13, Poland 12, Slovakia 12 and Sweden, the most liberal, 18. UK 24.
22 weeks just doesn’t do it. It doesn’t reduce the numbers or protect the vulnerable - yet 20 weeks does.
I have no idea what will happen at the vote on Tuesday, it seems like a long way off. I hope I have gone some way to explain why we need 20 and not 22. If you needed further convincing, however, here is a picture of a 20 weeker.
If the 22 amendment is passed, babies just like him will continue to be chopped up. I know it’s horrible and it's not language I like to use believe me – but it’s a fact. That’s how it is, an awful fact.
If we are faced with a choice of 20 or 22 weeks I think one key question we will have to ask ourselves as MPs will be one regarding the type of society we wish to legislate for.
Do we want to be part of a decent and civilised society?
Are we proud of having the highest upper limit in all of Europe?
Do we want to represent the views of our constituents?
Do we want to protect the most vulnerable within our society?
Do we want to remove all element of doubt to ensure that not one baby feels pain as a part of the abortion process?
Does a healthy baby, who would be capable of life if allowed to be born, have a right to life?
If we answer those questions honestly then I think I know which way we will vote.
Related link: Senior Tories promise to vote for lower abortion limit