Diana Johnson MP’s Abortion Bill

I recognise the strength of feeling that many people have on this issue.

I should say at the outset that the vast majority of Private Member’s Bills are not successful in becoming law, owing to the very little parliamentary time that is dedicated to their consideration.

The current regulations on abortion are governed by the Abortion Act 1967. This legislation makes it legal to have an abortion in Scotland, England and Wales during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy provided that the abortion is carried out in a hospital or licensed clinic, and that two doctors agree that continuing with the pregnancy would be more harmful to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family than if the pregnancy was aborted. Under this Act, an abortion may also be considered if medical professionals assess that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped. In my view, this Act puts in place sufficient control so that abortion can only ever take place when there is a clear medical reason, either for the pregnant woman or the foetus, for doing so.

You may also be aware that the Scotland Act 2016 has devolved control of abortion law to the Scottish Parliament, and so SNP MPs did not feel it would be appropriate for us to vote on this matter. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made her view clear that the Scottish Government is not inclined to make any changes to existing abortion laws.