The recent polling conducted by Where Do They Stand could change the debate on abortion in the UK.
Whilst the last few months have seen an ambitious Ten-Minute Rule Bill calling for full decriminalisation of abortion pass through the first stages of parliament this survey shows that there is very little appetite for this change.
Only 1% of the general public actually supports full decriminalisation of abortion, whereas an overwhelming majority of British people would in fact prefer to see the abortion time limit reduced from 24 weeks.
This is hardly surprising; the innovation in technology means that we can in greater detail than ever before see just how babies develop in the womb. Also, incredible advances in both medicine and science have enabled babies that are born before the abortion cut-off date to be cared for and ultimately go home and lead healthy lives.
It is hard to justify a proposal for a Bill in parliament asking for full decriminalisation of abortion when this poll makes is clear it’s not only not in the public interest but that the public are very much set against it.
What would be a better use of MPs’ time in the next parliament would be to get behind the Private Members Bill Lord Shinkwin proposed in the last parliament, but which was sadly lost when parliament dissolved. The Bill looked to stop the injustice that an unborn baby can be aborted up until birth if it has a disability.
This law runs completely contrary to all our laws against discrimination based on disability which seek to prevent limits being placed on what disabled people can achieve because we know that putting a cap on that potential is harmful to all. But by allowing abortion for unborn disabled children right up until birth we are not valuing their inherent worth and what they can bring to society. We are judging them before they’ve even entered the world.
In the lead up to Election Day on June 8th there are going to be great opportunities to engage with candidates on these issues. They will be turning up at your door canvassing for votes and also will be answering voters’ questions in organised hustings.
Abortion is likely to come up as an issue in the next parliament, but we can reframe the debate around it now. Any vote that happens in relation to abortion is likely to be subject to a conscience vote; therefore MPs are free to vote as they see fit, rather than following the party line. For that reason, it’s important to get to know the candidates standing in your area now and find out whether they would back public opinion on an important issue such as this.