London, England, Jul 1, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).
Pro-life groups are seeking to defeat an amendment that would introduce abortion on demand up to birth in England and Wales.
The charity Right To Life UK said that if the amendment passed, it would mark “the single biggest change to abortion legislation since 1967,” the year that the practice was legalized in Britain.
MPs are expected to vote on the amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on Monday.
According to an “explanatory statement” accompanying the amendment, the text tabled by Labour Party MP Diana Johnson would decriminalize abortion and create a new offense of “non-consensual termination of pregnancy.”
Right To Life has asked supporters to urge MPs to vote against the amendment, known as NC55, which it said would make the Abortion Act 1967 redundant.
After the Act was passed, abortion was permitted up to 28 weeks until 1990, when the time limit was reduced to 24 weeks unless there is a “substantial risk” of disability.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has also urged its members to write to their MPs.
The group explained that the amendment would allow abortion up to birth by repealing sections of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, which prohibits the administration of drugs or the use of instruments to cause a miscarriage, and excluding abortion from the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929.
The move follows the failure of a similar attempt to change abortion legislation in July 2020 through an amendment to a domestic abuse bill.
Figures showed that there were 210,860 abortions in 2020, the highest number since abortion was legalized.
The statistics, published by the Department of Health and Social Care, also indicated that 3,083 abortions took place in 2020 on the grounds of disability.
Right To Life UK said that 693 of the abortions were due to Down syndrome, an increase from 656 in 2019.
It added that there were also 35 abortions for cleft lip or cleft palate in 2020. Both conditions can be corrected by surgery.
The charity also said that 65 “selective termination” procedures took place, where doctors abort an unborn child carried by a mother expecting multiple babies.
Commenting on the new amendment, Antonia Tully, SPUC’s campaigns director, said: “New Clause 55 is very serious. If it is selected by the Speaker and passed into law, the last remaining legal protection for the unborn will be removed.”