Gaby Hinsliffe wrote this article, in this week’s Observer:
‘Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries will table an amendment aiming to reduce the cut-off point for legal abortion from 24 week's gestation to 20: David Cameron is among its backers.
‘At first Dorries thought she stood no chance of changing the law but she is growing more confident: 'I only have to walk through the House of Commons and MPs say: "I am with you on 20 weeks, I don't want to go any lower, don't want to ban abortion, but I'm with you."' She believes babies above this age may be sentient - capable of feeling pain - and too often capable of survival outside the womb.
‘Faced with such emotive arguments, the Department of Health is putting its faith in crisp science. Dawn Primarolo, the Public Health Minister, will argue that the government's best medical advice suggests the so-called point of viability at which a foetus is capable of independent life has not actually shifted from 24 weeks, and therefore the time limit should not change.
‘The care of premature babies is clearly improving but it hasn't improved to the point where you can move the point of viability,' she told The Observer . 'There just is a certain time limit when things like lungs are formed. Clearly if the science changes we would have to make that clear to Parliament, but it hasn't.’
I do think the Minister may have made herself look a little silly, lacking in basic medical knowledge, and maybe a tad naive when she said:
'There just is a certain time limit when things like lungs are formed. Clearly if the science changes we would have to make that clear to Parliament, but it hasn't.’
I am also disappointed in the way Gaby, known as one of the more trustworthy journalists, reported the story. She implied that my reason to lower to 20 weeks was based on emotion, and the Minister’s desire to remain at 24 weeks was based on science. So let’s just correct that shall we.
I have said this many times before, so I do apologise to those of you who have to read it again.
The ability for a baby to live when born before 24 weeks depends very much upon where it is born.
If the baby enters the world in a good hospital, which has a neo natal unit, and a team of trained dedicated staff, then the baby’s chances of survival are absolutely excellent.
You only have to look at the figures for UCH to understand that.
Immature lung development can, to some degree, be compensated for with drugs etc.
If a baby is born in a hospital with no specialist staff or unit, then the baby’s chances are slim.
The government are basing their assumption on averaging out the figures nationally, including every baby born into every situation, and taking an average.
That has nothing to do with a baby’s ability, given the technology we have today, to survive outside of the womb between 20 to 24 weeks; and nothing to do with the method which is used to end a baby’s life from 19 weeks onwards, or the issue of foetal pain.
I wrote this article for the Daily Telegraph,,laying out the argument in more detail.
The Minister is not dealing in ‘crisp science’. If she were, she would be advocating a reduction to 20 weeks. The Minister is dealing in pro-abortion propaganda, which is a shame, because we are talking about 3,000 babies lives per year.