Over 100,000 sign petition calling for reduction to abortion time limit

The petition being delivered to Downing Street.(Photo: Right to Life UK)

A petition signed by over 102,000 people calling for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 22 weeks has been handed in to Downing Street. 

The petition was organised by Right to Life UK and was delivered to 10 Downing Street along with a group of MPs and parents of children who were born at 22 and 23 weeks. 

They say that the abortion time limit should be lowered from the current 24 weeks in line with advances in medical science that have led to more very premature babies surviving. 

"In 1990, the abortion limit was reduced from 28 to 24 weeks due to the increased chance of survival for extremely premature babies. In the 30 years since then, medical technology has greatly improved and babies are increasingly likely to survive at earlier gestations," the petition reads.

"The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 or 23 weeks gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

"This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive at 23 weeks whilst, in another room of the same hospital, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age."

Proposals to lower the current time limit are included in a landmark amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill tabled by a cross-party group of over 30 MPs led by Caroline Ansell.

The call is supported by 750 medical professionals who have written to all 650 MPs urging them to back the amendment. 

Jade Crane from Derbyshire, mum to Harry and Harley, who were born at 22 weeks and five days, was among the parents delivering the petition.

"Ever since Harry and Harley were born, we've been determined to show that babies born at 22 weeks can survive, because here they are, our little warriors, thriving at home," she said. 

"It's crazy to think that there are babies being aborted at 24 weeks when our twins were born at 22. It doesn't make any sense.

"Our little ones, born at 22 weeks, are living proof of what medical advancements can achieve. It's time the law reflects this reality and the abortion limit is reduced to 22 weeks.

"We're calling on MPs across the UK to vote in favour of the amendment to reduce the abortion time limit from 24 to 22 weeks. Babies in the womb at 22 weeks, which is as young as Harry and Harley were when they were born, deserve to be given a chance at life - they're tiny humans, but humans nonetheless."

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said: "This petition is one of the largest petitions delivered to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street over the last year.

"It's fantastic to see that an amazing 102,573 people have joined parents of children born at 22 and 23 weeks along with over 750 medical professionals to call for a reduction to our abortion time limit.

"This demonstrates the overwhelming support from the general public for Caroline Ansell's amendment to lower the abortion time limit from 24 to 22 weeks in line with advances in medical science."