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Abortion to be reduced to 20 weeks

(506 Posts)
avenueone Tue 02-Oct-12 22:51:00

There is a story on the front page of the Telegraph tomorrow (paper review) saying that in brief due to babies? being able to survive from a younger age it should be reduced.
I personally don't think this is an argument as I doubt they could survive without medical intervention. I feel it is just another attempt to undermine a woman's right to choose what we do with out bodies. Sorry no link but there should be one around tomorrow and I will try and post it.

mcmooncup Wed 03-Oct-12 11:32:47

I'm not sure why we are even talking about rights up to term. It is diverting from the point as that is not what is the opposing argument to a lowering to 20 weeks. The opposing argument is to keep the law as it stands at 24 weeks unless the pregnancy is life threatening to the mother.

The 24 weeks limit covers most situations. A very small minority of cases have to use the 'unless' clause. We need to be discussing what is wrong with the 24 week law.........and I guess this all centres on the following stats:

Survival rates:

21 weeks and less 0%

22 weeks 0-10%*

23 weeks 10-35%

24 weeks 40-70%

I have seen these stats quoted in many places. I do not know what the repercussion are in terms of long-term health for the 10-35% in the 23 week bracket.

But I will say that there are so few abortions in these periods that it is becoming a moral argument that ultimately is used to fire up a political storm. And that is what I am uncomfortable with.

SarryB Wed 03-Oct-12 11:39:14

Fiona I think you have a very good point about the 'what if a woman gives birth to a live baby she was thinking about aborting'. I do think there should be a limit on abortion, but I really don't think it should be any sooner than 23 weeks.

This allows for medical tests, counselling, and in the vast majority of cases, a woman would already know she is pregnant. But still, it's a very tight turn-around point for those that choose to have medical tests.

samandi Wed 03-Oct-12 12:15:20

I don't particularly agree with the viability argument anyway, but 20 weeks seems quite reasonable to me.

drjohnsonscat Wed 03-Oct-12 12:51:55

FionaOJ if the baby can survive outside the mother (and is taken outside of the mother) then the baby has independent rights. But if the baby is inside the mother then it doesn't have independent rights.

Whether it could live outside the mother or not at that point of gestation is moot because we are not at a point where we extract live babies from their mothers other than to deliver them. All the while that the woman is a vessel, in my view the woman gets absolute rights over what happens. When she is not a vessel she doesn't.

So I could imagine a science fiction situation where a woman decides she doesn't want a baby but rather than have a termination, the baby is taken out and grown to term "in vitro". That baby has its own rights because the mother has been taken out of the equation. But this is not a real world situation and nobody even suggests it for late term where the baby would survive perfectly easily. So until we get to that futuristic point, the whole issue is moot for me. The woman has ultimate control. She chooses whether to give life or not - and sometimes she chooses not. And yes that does mean very late term abortion is ok in my world. Women have to give birth - they provide literal access to the world. I don't think it's too much to say that they decide whether to give access or not - simply because of the physical imposition on their bodie3s and their lives. Once access is given, every individual has their independent rights but until that point they don't.

That's how it seems to me. Obviously not everyone sees it that way but that's my interpretation of it. Incidentally, I studied philosophy at university and it was shocking to me that the inter-relationship of women and foetuses was never discussed throughout a three year degree - this issue on which all of our understanding of "individual rights" - what it is to be an individual with rights - can founder, was ignored in favour of various male philosophers' meanderings on the subject.

Smellslikecatspee Wed 03-Oct-12 12:53:42

I have written on here before about my gyne problems. I could easily be 16-18 weeks pregnant or more and not know. And I am no innocent, am actually an ex HCP.

There was a thread recently somewhere where a woman had given birth not knowing that she was pregnant and the amount of women that posted saying that actually they didn’t know till they were 18, 20, 22, 24 weeks gone.

Sometimes because of their personal medical history, sometimes their circumstances.

Why would all of these women have fewer rights?

You either agree or don’t, no sitting on the fence.

As for the comments what if a woman gave birth to a 24+ weeker that she had planned to abort, well as in the main abortions given at this time are usually due to conditions that will not /cannot sustain life chances of a live birth are low, or if it is a live birth most will die soon after a short, agonizing life, surrounded by bright lights and noise and pain and confusion.

It is a feminist issue, and it is a chipping away of women’s rights

AThingInYourLife Wed 03-Oct-12 13:02:22

Very well said dr, I agree entirely.

ReallyTired Wed 03-Oct-12 13:06:01

If there was research into better ante natal testing at an early stage then women could have their abortions early. If access to a chemical abortion was made easier then late abortions would not be easier. Maybe the school nurse should be allowed to arrange early chemical abortions for school girls without parental permission.

I think the present law is about right. Abortion is never an easy decision and women need to offered skilled councelling and the chance to discuss their options.

I accidently got pregnant at 25 years old and I chose to continue with the pregnancy. I now have a beautiful ten year old, but I really had a baby at completely the wrong time of my life. In some respects it has messed up my life totally as I lost a fanastic career. I can understand and emphasise with someone who chooses to have an abortion.

I feel that better access to early abortions will reduce the number of late abortions.

TeaAndHugs Wed 03-Oct-12 13:24:28

Here is an excellent case study of the reasons why women request abortion after 22 weeks. It's not simply because they change their mind. A quarter of the women in the study did not know they were pregnant, some of them having continued to have periods and negative pregnancy test results. One had her pregnancy dated incorrectly by her GP. One was lied to by her GP about the options available to her when she requested an early abortion. Nearly 10% were struggling with addiction. Some already had children in care. Some were recent immigrants with poor English skills and no knowledge of the UK system. Nearly one third were teenagers.
I would like Maria Miller to read this and rethink her comments about late-term abortion having a damaging effect on women - what exactly does she think forced childbirth is going to do to these people?

I still don't understand why the possibility that a baby can survive outside the womb is an argument for forcing it to stay in there. There is another person involved here - the woman who is forced to go through the later stages of pregnancy against her will. Why is she so often ignored in this discussion?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 03-Oct-12 13:43:47

Ah, thanks Tea, was just coming on to post that link. In particular the woman given bad advice by her HCP was awful.

Fiona, my understanding is that the foetal heart is stopped by an injection prior to any late-term abortion, so the situation you describe shouldn't arise. I'm working from memory though so may be wrong.

OptimisticPessimist Wed 03-Oct-12 13:48:22

I understood Fiona to be referring to the possibility of the mother going into spontaneous labour before the abortion had been carried out? Quite an unusual scenario I would have thought.

KillerRack Wed 03-Oct-12 14:09:52

I think it should be lowered, 4 months is long enough to make an informed decision on whether you want.

I can believe anyone would condone an abortion to term there has to be a line somewhere.

JuliaScurr Wed 03-Oct-12 14:18:29

Smells you are right

KRITIQ Wed 03-Oct-12 14:48:34

Good post Tea and Hugs. Numbers of abortions even after 20 weeks are relatively few, but again it's rarely because someone has just "changed their mind" late in the day.

I support no reduction in the time limit and maintaining the same conditions regarding later abortions. I also support removing the requirement for the approval of two doctors, particularly up to 24 weeks gestation, but at least up to 12 weeks. Actually, up to 12 weeks, I believe it should be on request of the patient.

ReallyTired Wed 03-Oct-12 14:54:02

"I would like Maria Miller to read this and rethink her comments about late-term abortion having a damaging effect on women - what exactly does she think forced childbirth is going to do to these people?"

With a late abortion the foetus/baby/whatever you call it/him/her has to come out someway. There is no way you magically wave a wand to get the fetus out.

Either the fetus comes out vaginally (ie. labour) or its a c-section. A late miscarriage/ abortion is a similar experience to labour. The women who have late abortions are forced to give birth to a dead fetus or have a c-section. These women will in effect experience childbirth without the living baby.

I find it hard to imagine someone going through that experience unless there are some desperate reasons. It would be interesting to know how many people have an abortion after 20 weeks for social reasons. Maybe women should be allowed to induce their babies early and have the children adopted if they can technically survive.

The only person I know who had a late termination had a baby with anencephaly at 28 weeks. The experience has scarred her.

Misslb88 Wed 03-Oct-12 15:04:12

Y does it take 20 weeks to decide whether u want to keep a baby or not?? Its disgusting to leave it until 20 weeks if u dont want a baby then the simple answer is use contraception get ur man to put something on the end of it not rocket science. Think of the poor people that cannot carry a baby. Reduce it alot lower. To all the people agree with it being 20 weeks ur all just messed up in the head and obviously dont really care!! angry

KRITIQ Wed 03-Oct-12 15:16:44

Misslb88, I take it you haven't bothered to read anything above your post. hmm

Startailoforangeandgold Wed 03-Oct-12 15:26:06

Given there must be an exception for problems identified at 20 week scan.

Surely this reduction only serves to hurt very venerable, very frightened and often very young women.

I can't imagine many women taking until the 5th month of pregnancy to decide on an abortion unless they genuinely didn't know (it happens), were too frightened to admit it or were in very difficult personal circumstances.

Thairishmum Wed 03-Oct-12 15:50:30

Marcheline, as someone who has been lucky enough to have been born, I would have preferred a 'bad start' in life than no start at all. Abortions at such a late stage are totally wrong. I would be greatly interested to hear what reasons women would have for allowing the pregnancy to progress so far anyway? Just can't fathom the logic that allows '"foetuses" to be aborted in one part of a hospital and same gestation babies to be resuscitated in another. Women's rights should not be allowed to impinge on the rights of the baby at such a late stage.

Startailoforangeandgold Wed 03-Oct-12 15:53:01

Please can everyone read TeaandHandbags link!!!

I've known 3 very sensible women who haven't know they were pregnant and continued to have period type bleeding.

One had two DCs and a new job and was mega embarrassed as she must have been PG at interview and was certain they'd think she'd known.

One who felt awful and who's GP found she had high blood pressure due to being 5+ months PG.

And one who lovely big young lady who'd been had glandular fever and expected to feel tired and grotty. She'd long since split up with her BF and labour was a total shock, her DC was put up for adoption.

The other two kept theirs.

However all 3 had very supportive families, that can not be the case for all women.

blackcurrants Wed 03-Oct-12 15:58:22

I'm 28 weeks pregnant now. I cannot imagine myself in early August turning around and saying "Whoops, changed my mind! Five months of puking, sweating, swelling and feeling like shite weren't enough to convince me that I don't want to have a baby, but suddenly I've changed my fickle ladybrain and so I want an abortion right now!" Whoever imagines this kind of woman doesn't like women very much.

Less than 2% of all abortions happen after 20 weeks.

These abortions are invariably tragic stories; it's an unpleasant procedure for which no woman would volunteer on a whim.

I trust women to make the right decisions about their health and their lives and their families.

If people want to reduce the amount of late-term abortions in the UK (Which, as noted above, is a tiny amount of all abortions) they they should do the following things:

(1) Support comprehensive, mandatory sex education
(2) Support increased access to family planning clinics and rape advisory services
(3) Support abortion upon patient request up to 12 weeks, not this '2 doctors sign off' paternalistic delaying nonsense
(4) Support easier access to medical abortion

Oh, and those who are anti-abortion, I do hope you all give blood and bone marrow tissue regularly? Have donated one of your kidneys? And adopt and foster children?
Yeah, thought so.

OneMoreChap Wed 03-Oct-12 15:58:26


Abortion isn't, and has never been, a simple issue Misslb88 read some of the links and learn a bit more about it [from the perspective pf a pro-abortion campaigner in the 70s, if you want to know my interest]

slug Wed 03-Oct-12 16:11:33

Blackcurrants, can I add to your list

(5) Support enforceable mandatory child support payments from the father/sperm donor

Just so often women are quite literally left holding the baby having been forced to give birth to it.

BasicallySFB Wed 03-Oct-12 16:32:53

Yep I'm in the camp of abortion on demand (why does it still need 2 doctors?) as early as possible, for free, in a setting of the women's choice (i.e. Clinic or hospital, whatever they felt most comfortable and was safest) and absolutely without needing to run the gauntlet of anti-choice campaigners first.

Definitely no lowering of the limit.

I think very, very few women would opt for a late abortion unless in desperate circumstances.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 03-Oct-12 16:40:42

Sorry you had a bad start thairish but there would have been no "you" to have an opinion if your mother had made a different decision. Other posters have previously stated that their own bad starts led them to a strong pro-choice position as they feel that an abortion would have been better for their mothers.

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Wed 03-Oct-12 16:53:30

Guardian article

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