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BPAS welcomes MPs' free vote to support women and not to reduce the abortion time limit

Published 21 May 2008

In debates on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in the House of Commons on Tuesday 20 May, attempts to cut the legal time limit for abortion failed, leaving the upper time limit for most abortions at 24 weeks.

A proposed amendment to drop the time limit to 22 weeks was defeated by 304 votes to 233, a majority of 71. Another attempt to reduce the limit to 20 weeks was decisively defeated by 332 to 190, majority 142.

Ann Furedi of the charity BPAS which offers treatment for women coming for late abortions on behalf of the NHS, said

'This is a welcome outbreak of common sense among MPs considering the abortion issue. MPs have examined and debated the evidence once again, this time on the floor of the House of Commons. By a clear margin, they found no reason to reduce the time limit for abortion.

'As many MPs stated in the Commons Chamber last night, they are acutely aware of the evidence showing women's need for the safety net of the existing 24 week time limit. Many MPs, of all religions and of none, felt very strongly that supporting the time limit was a compassionate moral imperative.

'It’s good to see MPs rightly standing up for those few vulnerable women and teenagers who come in very difficult situations to request a late abortion. This are always complex and unfortunate cases and these women deserve our absolute support and sympathy.’



BPAS is the UK’s leading not-for-profit sexual healthcare provider, over 87% of which care is provided free of charge on behalf of the NHS. Typical non-NHS funded clients may have travelled to BPAS from the Irish Republic, Northern Ireland or Italy, locations where access to safe, legal abortion remains restricted by  law.                                               

As well as contraceptive advice and treatment, BPAS carried out around 60,000 terminations of pregnancy in 2007. BPAS has centres across England, Wales and Scotland and is a specialist provider of early and late abortions. The charity provides around 80% of the abortions between 20 weeks and up to the 24 week limit. Only five independent abortion clinics in the UK are approved by the Secretary of State to undertake abortions over 20 weeks gestation, four of which are run by the charity BPAS.

Late abortion is disproportionately likely to involve teenage or vulnerable women. Typically it is requested after delayed recognition of pregnancy, family or relationship breakdown, domestic violence, sexual assault or rape; ‘denial’ of pregnancy due to fear of parents’ or partners’ reactions; not knowing where to ask for help, delays to referral or the diagnosis of a serious fetal abnormality.

Researchers from Southampton University studied this group in 2007:

Please contact the BPAS press office on 07788 725 185 to request more information.

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