Amendments to decriminalise abortion have no place in a civilised society

12 January 2024

Tim Dieppe explains why we must oppose the abortion lobby’s latest attempt to decriminalise abortion

Late last year, two amendments were proposed to the Criminal Justice Bill which would have the effect of decriminalising abortion right up to birth.

The Christian Legal Centre has submitted evidence on the dangers of these amendments to the committee which is considering this Bill.

Amendment NC1, proposed by Dame Diana Johnson MP, removes any criminal culpability for a woman who ends her pregnancy, no matter at what stage, or at what danger to herself or her unborn child.

Amendment NC2, proposed by Stella Creasy MP, would have the same effect, but would also decriminalise abortion for medical staff involved and remove any criminal sanctions from someone who conceals the live birth of a child.

The effect of these amendments would be to make abortion legal for any reason, right up to the moment of birth. This would include sex-selective abortions or an abortion merely because the mother has decided she would rather discard her baby.

This means that a woman could falsely obtain pills for a DIY abortion late into her pregnancy and take these pills at grave risk to herself and her baby with no legal consequences.

If amendment NC2 became law, then a mother who gave birth to a live baby after a failed late-term abortion who then decided to conceal her birth and dispose of the baby would face no criminal sanction.

The Christian Legal Centre’s submission to the Bill Committee argues that “these amendments have no place in a civilised society, and are reckless as they relate to the life and dignity of the unborn child and its mother.”

The submission also argues that these amendments would violate Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 2 is the right to life, and Article 3 is the prohibition of torture. Case law is cited in the submission showing that the European Court of Human Rights has found that unborn children do have some protection within the meaning of Article 2.

Earlier this year, a mother was convicted of procuring drugs to induce an abortion of her baby at 32 weeks’ gestation. She was initially sentenced to a 28-month prison term, but this was later reduced to a 14-month suspended sentence, meaning she was released from prison. The mother admitted lying about her gestational age to BPAS to obtain the abortion pills. At 32 weeks’ gestation, babies have a 95% survival rate if delivered.

Every abortion kills a baby. But to intentionally kill a child who is able to live outside his or her mother’s womb is barbaric in a particularly obvious way.

When pills-by-post abortion was legalised, initially as an emergency measure during the pandemic, we warned that the system would be wide open to abuse like this. Christian Concern brought a legal case to challenge the decision, providing evidence that it is not safe. Now campaigners are seeking to fully legalise abuses of the system to make it acceptable to kill babies right up to birth.

Please write to your MP asking them to oppose these dangerous amendments. When the Bill has been through committee stage it will be debated in the House of Commons before becoming law.

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