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Majority want abortion time limit reduced, poll shows

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The majority of the British public want to see British abortion laws restricted, a new poll has shown.

The poll, conducted by ComRes, found that 70% of women surveyed would like the abortion time limit, which is currently 24 weeks' gestation, to be lowered – while only 1% believe that it should be allowed up to birth.

The results demonstrate a sharp contrast between public opinion, and recent attempts by the government to push through a bill to decriminalise abortion.

Public wants abortion limit lowered

ComRes surveyed 2,008 British adults online between 12 and 14 May, for Where Do They Stand, which displays voting records on life issues from MPs.

It found that the majority of the British public would like abortion restrictions to be tightened.

Under the 1967 Abortion Act, abortion is illegal, except for under limited circumstances.

98% of abortions take place in the UK under the grounds that the mother's mental health is at risk, for which the time limit is 24 weeks.   

70% of British women said they would like this to be lowered, with 59% wanting it to be lowered to 16 weeks.

Around one fifth of the general population want the current time limit to remain as it is. Only 1% would like the abortion time limit to be extended, and a further 1% would like abortion to be allowed up to birth.


Those surveyed were also asked about measures such as banning 'gender-abortion', abortion counselling, consent, and tax-payer funding of abortions overseas.

9 in 10 women, and 89% of the general population, want an explicit ban on 'gender-abortion'.

Helping women find alternatives

93% of women believe that independent abortion counselling should be introduced, and 84% want improved support for women in crisis pregnancies.

Just under two-thirds of the general population believe that parental or guardian consent should be required for girls aged 15 or under to undergo an abortion.

In the Netherlands, a 5-day consideration period is available to women who are thinking about having an abortion, between initial consultation and the date of the abortion. Nearly 8 in 10 of those surveyed would like this policy to be introduced in Britain.

Funding international abortions

The majority of the population, at 65%, also oppose tax-payer money funding international abortions.

The UK-based Marie Stopes International (MSI), which performs abortions even in countries such as Uganda where the practice is illegal, received £44.5m of British tax-payers' money in 2016.

Christian Concern's Jonathan Saunders commented on this atrocity earlier this year, calling on the UK government to defund MSI.

Radical political agenda

The findings demonstrate a huge contrast between public opinion, and a radical political agenda.

At large, the British public believe that the abortion law is too liberal, that more should be done to help women choose other option, and that British money should not be spent on funding for abortions overseas.

Despite this, Labour MP Diana Johnson introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill earlier this year, which seeks to decriminalise abortion. This would effectively allow for abortion on demand.

The bill was backed by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which is Britain's largest abortion provider.

Parliament 'out of touch'

Christian Medical Fellowship's Philippa Taylor commented on the poll and its discrepancy with the political agenda, saying:

"Over the past couple of years there has been a concerted effort by pro-abortion groups to campaign for the 'decriminalisation' of abortion, which would effectively scrap the 24-week limit altogether, allowing abortion to birth (note that only 1% of those polled actually back this idea!).

"This pro-abortion campaign uses the slogan 'we trust women' which seems particularly ironic in view of what 70% of women really want. The campaign recently culminated in a Bill in Parliament which passed by 172 to 142 and would have decriminalised abortion had it progressed further, illustrating how many Parliamentarians are also out of touch with what women really want."

Philippa continued: "Moreover the media has provided plenty of backing for the campaign (see here too).  Last week Tim Farron did a complete about-turn on earlier statements that he was opposed to abortion.

"A Liberal Democrat source told PoliticsHome last week that Farron: '…spoke to experts, looked at the evidence and changed his mind.' The irony is that he was clearly speaking to the wrong 'experts'. Perhaps if he'd seen these poll results earlier he'd have realised that his earlier position was actually more in line with what women want, rather than what his 'experts' told him last week."

'Entirely at odds'

Writing in The Spectator, Melanie McDonagh said: "[W]hat's really striking is that the poll's conservative (small c, folks) approach to abortion – with a notable bias towards restricting the practice – is almost entirely at odds with the stance taken by most public broadcasters, pundits and parliamentarians."

She adds: "What this poll does is suggest that these attitudes and this approach may need to change, because they're not wholly reflective of the public mood."


Related Links:
Abortion up-to-birth bill to be heard by Parliament
MPs vote in favour of decriminalising abortion
Pro-abortion activist to be given £512,000 of taxpayers' money to write abortion book 
Camilla Olim: Abortion and the politics of progress
Regan King: The law is being let's change the law to make a difference


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