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Good discussion on this bject last night on Question Time.Anyone who wants to see it can download from bbc.co.uk.

It's about time abortion was taken out of Parliamentary business, and left to women and their medics. There can be good reason for a late abortion. I'm fed up with those with religious views imposing their opinions on others. As for improving technology keeping premature babies alive, those in favour should look at the actual outcomes - massive increases in learning difficulties and serious physical problems. Try speaking to the professionals in medicine and social services, and to the parents involved.

Sim is absolutely right about the actual outcomes for very premature babies. For every little tot held up as an example of how bright and only 22 weeks gestation, there is a shadowy world of cerebral palsy, blindness, severe epilepsy, profound learning disability...... I could go on. I believe Holland has started a Do Not Ressuccitate in very early deliveries, where the baby is extremely "flat" at birth, and it is obvious there will be a tragic outcome. That scenario has to be thrown into the equasion also.

There are many people who are not religious who have a problem with late abortion.

As for following a practise in another country where new born babies are not ressuccitated. No matter how early the delivery the medical proffession is there to help save a life. I hope we never go down the slipperly slope of not helping a baby to survive once it is born, because there are problems. How many of us would not be alive today.

Agree with sim.

Also was impressed by Letwin's response to this on Question Time last night.

Of course, one can, and maybe even ought to have, an opinion on such an issue, but too often we hear very entrenched views from people who the issue would never affect.

It is a very difficult issue, and people should consider very carefully how qualified they are to lecture on the issue.

My personal opinion would be that it is probably right to look at reducing the limit to the 20 weeks, but it's really not something I have much knowledge on.

They are going rather further than that in Holland Annabel. Under the "Groningen protocol" some doctors are seeking to euthanase some disabled new-born children, for example those born with Spina Bifida.

Simon, take it from someone whose relatives included midwives and doctors 'in the olden days', compassion often directed them to inform mothers that their babies had been 'stillborn'. With the postwar boom in hospital deliveries, that became increasingly difficult, with the result that many have been forced to undergo lives of appalling suffering, both parents and children. Also, whilst the State legislates against solutions to this problem, it all too rarely provides the wherewithal to care for the outcome. If we're against killing, let's concentrate on stopping wars and genocide.

"It's about time abortion was taken out of Parliamentary business, and left to women and their medics."

On the contrary, it is entirely appropriate that this issue should be discussed in Parliament. By definition, legislating on any topic means imposing one's views on others.

I agree with 'sim' and Annabel, why is it ALWAYS men who bring this subject up, on this website if nowhere else.

As someone who has had experience with premature babies, malformed babies - spina bifida, hydracephalus and others, albeit a long time ago, I feel I have more qualifications to philosophise on the subject than most men, and yet it is they who return again and again, wanting to control this essentially female area. WHY!

I can't see why men shouldn't have opinions on abortion, as on any other ethical question.

Sean I agree with you of course men are entitled to have opinions on abortion. But it is a matter of degree, and my contention is that it is usually men who seem to get most 'worked up' in any discussion on abortion, and indeed usually seem to be the initiators of those discussions, especially in the area of legal changes. And there are many female lawyers these days!

I am concerned that moves to reduce the abortion time limit could be used as an opportunity by the pro-abortion lobby to make early abortions easier. Most abortions take place earlier anyway. Therefore we could end up killing more babies than now. Reform should deal with the reasons when abortion is allowed, rather than the time limit.

Apparently some researchers believe that a child has some awareness even from the moment of conception. If life begins at conception, the debate about term limits is surely a side issue.... And again, why abortion when adoption is an alternative that saves life.

"Sean I agree with you of course men are entitled to have opinions on abortion. But it is a matter of degree, and my contention is that it is usually men who seem to get most 'worked up' in any discussion on abortion, and indeed usually seem to be the initiators of those discussions, especially in the area of legal changes. And there are many female lawyers these days!"

In the opinion polls it tends to be women who are most in favour of reform.

Richard if that is the case, it still depends what is meant by 'reform' in the context that is used by those women.

My own view is that men are (on average) rather keener on abortion than women, Patsy, as they see it as a means of getting rid of a responsibility which they'd rather not have.

And as Richard says, poll after poll indicates that there is a large gender gap on this issue, and that women are generally keener on abortion restrictions.

The catholics are just predictable and plainly playing for incremental gains. However, I do honestly think that if a baby can live outside the womb, nobody has any business killing it. As an independent person, it has a right to protection. The mother's right isn't to kill the baby but to evict it from tenancy.

As for babies before the age when they can live alone, I've thought that the 21st century solution to the dilemma would be to work out some means of baby transplantation. The whole bubble of placenta, fluid and baby is one unit and ought in theory to be moveable from Ms A to Ms B.

Well done John for bringing this matter up. It's good to see that we have at least one man of principle amongst our MPs at Westminster. As medicine advances the issues surrounding pregancy terminations must constantly be discussed, debated and the law revised as necessary.

I agree with Sean.I am highly suspicious of the motives of men who are keen supporters of abortion. It is my belief that many men regard it as a cop out from avoiding their parental responsibilities ~ it's` the 'if you get pregnant you can get rid of it and i'm off the hook attitude' which I have come across over the years.Equally I feel for the men who want their children but have no say in the question if their partners want to terminate

Getting rid of a potential child is not like removing a decayed tooth or cancerous growth.

My attitude was always ~ it's there, growing in my womb; it's there for a purpose,what right have I to deny that child life? (No, I am not RC but CE but I support the Catholic church 101% on this and have always have done so)

Plese always remember too that just because a pregancy may be unplanned, it does NOT mean that the resulting child is unwanted or unloved.

I agree with verulamgal regarding the sad cases where men who want their child are over-ruled and the woman has an abortion. Women can also be very cruel at times.

I was a bit disappointed to read some of the comments posted so far.

To deal with the comment that Questiontime was good on this, I found it very ironic that the panellists started off the show saying that the "most important thing is the security and protection of children" to later supporting late abortion - it's impossible to say these aren't children when they can be born prematurely. Oliver Letwin and Charles Kennedy said there should be a restriction and that was good, but Germaine Greer and Alan Johnson both said that it was a small number of late abortions and therefore justifiable. I cannot understand how a small number justifies killing children. In fact, Alan Johnson got his facts completely wrong when he said it's only something like 150 babies that are aborted after 20 weeks, it would be different if it was thousands of abortions but it's not - well actually it is thousands of abortions - 3,000 over the age of 20 weeks, and 200,000 every year. It is a shame that Alan Johnson and Germaine Greer weren't picked up on this. Also Germaine Greer said that doctors don't like doing late abortions, which is true, but that doesn't mean that it isn't possible to find someone who has no problems with late abortions, John Parsons for example.

I also think it is mad that this isn't a more central political issue, it is clearly tremendously important, so why is it up to a backbencher to put forward a bill, isn't it the duty of the government to protect all its citizens (as questiontime panellists are always telling us) and also to take forward important issues and give it proper time? What is really more important than the lives of children? Also it is a complete fallacy to say that the political parties have a neutral stance on this issue and it is a free vote matter. As long as the parties do not take a prolife stand or a restrict abortion stand they are supporting abortion.

In response to Patsy Sergent's comnent "someone who has had experience with premature babies, malformed babies - spina bifida, hydracephalus and others", are you saying therefore that you are against the abortions of completely healthy babies which is the vast majority of the 200,000 a year? And what about the baby that was aborted at 28 weeks for having a cleft palate? this is hardly a serious disability? even in the case of serious disability why does this mean they have no right to life?

The whole issue about babies being disabled is a red herring anyway, it doesn't in any way justify killing them, the point of medicine should always be to treat as far as possible, and in any case, if these babies weren't aborted but allowed to continue to a full term pregnancy there would be less complications. I'm also very sceptical about the reasons for late abortions, do we really honestly trust abortion providers who obviously support abortion to regulate themselves? who are we kidding? we know that BPAS is run by Ann Furedi who supports abortion up to and including birth for any reason, and what kind of job do we think the Dept of Health is doing?

Regarding the point that people raise about it being women's right to choose, we don't form any of our other laws in this peculiar way, so why abortion? The whole criminal justice system is based on protecting the weakest. Everyone has a duty to protect children from harm. In any case, it is perfectly possible to protect the child and the woman, no one should lose, and improve women's circumstances.

Either abortion is a lifestyle choice for women which is unacceptable, or women are forced into abortions which is unacceptable to everyone.

Fiona Pinto is 100% right on this.

Interesting letter yesterday in the Sunday Times, Ireland edition regarding abortion law.


Canada has not restricted abortion through law since 1988, and has one third lower abortion rates than the US.

So if no restrictions on abortion lead to lower abortion rates, there is no case for lowering the time limit, and a case for scrapping restrictions altogether. Whilst I don't expect the religious to agree, for obvious reasons, surely the practical amongst them who want to see a reduction in abortion rates should advocate following the Canadian example.

So if no restrictions on abortion lead to lower abortion rates, there is no case for lowering the time limit, and a case for scrapping restrictions altogether.
I rather favour allowing abortion at any time before actual birth on anaesthetic - so long as it isn't actually causing pain to the foetus\baby.

One way of reducing the numbers of abortions might be to stop subsidising it on the NHS, if people had to pay for an abortion they might be more careful. However reducing abortion might also lead to more unwanted babies and naturally increased demands on the state, in addition some of these foetuses are not really going to be viable as functional humans, there is the issue of the continuance of genetic defects down the generations - as it is the NHS actually keeps alive many babies who have genetic problems that mean that otherwise they would not have lived, this can result in the survival of these genes and so the problem can end up being spread down the generations and intensified and the result is a society of people increasingly reliant on external medical care to survive - it's unfortunate but true.

I don,t agree with abortion and think it must be the last resort,maybe a rape case or incest and must be in the very early stages of the pregnancy I believe human life is sacred and is against my moral principles,obviously people have other views,is it mainly because they are willing to take a childs life,rather than observe a more moral code of discipline for themselves and take charge of their own moral obligations?. Could anyone please tell me how many women perform this operation? It would be an interesting factor,or if any pregnant women have ever performed the operation. Yours sincerely Colin Moore

Surely if we want to reduce abortions (which seems to be the general consnsus here, and one which I would heartily concur with) would it not be better to encourage and educate better use of contraception? (And make sure that it more readily available).

The opposition of some religious groups to contraception is unbelievable in this day and age. (Incidentally, to any Cathloics reading, can you quote me one passage from the gospels where Christ expressed an anti-contraception sentiment? I've looked, and I can't find one.)

Sadly, and this is wrong and we should be actively educating young (and not so young) men about this, contraception seems to remain pre-dominantly the responsibility of the female sex. It is therefore absolutely essential that women have access to effective contraception and are thoroughly educated about it in schools. They are not now.

I have a teenage daughter. Like any father I would like her to not engage in sexual activity until she is mature enough. (Like age 30 plus, when it will be okay to hold hands). In reality however, I would MUCH rather she used effecftive contraception than went through the hell of an abortion.

Jon I totally see your point -but there's full availability of contraception in this country-the government even goes further and pays for it. one of the best ways of encouraging people to use contraception, abstain from sexual promiscuity etc (the various means to prevent unwanted pregnancies) is to ban or restrict abortion-when the US legalized abortion the rate of conceptions soared -as did the rate of abortions (and in Canada) which I think answers lucy 74 point, number of abortions are not driven just by the law-but it's a big factor.

There’s also a point that some thing get labelled contraception when like abortion they destroy the unborn-but that's a side point separate from what you said.

I am not a Catholic myself but my understanding is the whole point of being one is you believe that the tradition of church down history -"living Christianity" so to speak is what decides doctrine rather than the bible itself- which is why orthodox Catholics oppose contraception and orthodox protestants are fine for it- Jon I think you touched on the reasons why

Surely at the very least we can agree on banning abortion when the child might live if labour was forced?

Are those who think disabled babies lives should be ended also supporters of the death penalty for the worst murderers?

Because an aborted baby or 20 weeks or thereabouts looks like a full term baby, it is very upsetting for the nursing staff to leave it there to die. So doctors have taken to cutting it up in the womb.

So we live in a country where some believe that the quick killing of a fox is evil and cruel while the cutting up a baby without pain killers is perfectly acceptable?

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