NRL News

If more premature babies are surviving, the abortion time limit should be reduced, Members of Parliament say

by | Mar 11, 2024

By Dave Andrusko

We regularly post and repost stories about abortion overseas and in Canada. Usually they tell of setbacks or at best holding the line. Support for abortion is seemingly embedded deep in the DNA of elected officials.

Then there is the occasional excellent if (as always) very limited breakthrough. Writing in the Telegraph, Caroline Ansell’s story is headlined “More premature babies are surviving than ever. We should reduce the abortion time limit.” The subhead reads “Britain is lagging behind other countries by not lowering the limit to 22 weeks. A cross-party group of MPs are trying to change that.”

(In the United Kingdom, abortions are performed up to 24 weeks. In truth, abortion is essentially legal all the way through pregnancy if the baby is prenatally diagnosed with a “significant disability,” which can and has included cleft palates. This is the infamous “ground C.”)

So Ansell’s story, which is extremely well- written, is making the case, point by point, that the “limit” on abortions should be scaled back to 22 weeks for the simple reason that medical technology has outpaced the law.

Her lead is very clever.

What do Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and current 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk all have in common? All were born at least two months prematurely. And yet between them, they have made discoveries or performed feats that stand them apart in human history. Our world would be poorer without them.


Each of these men defied the odds when it came to their birth; when Newton was born on Christmas Day 1642, he weighed just three pounds.


Thanks to medical advances, more and more premature babies are surviving, at younger and younger ages. Among them may be the next generation of men and women who will transform our world in some way.

But Ansell is also making the point that the UK is

an outlier with its 24-week limit. The average abortion time limit among EU countries is 12 weeks, the end of the first trimester of pregnancy. Germany, Ireland and Italy are among countries that have a 12-week limit; in France and Spain, the limit is 14 weeks and even liberal Sweden’s limit of 18 weeks falls less than halfway through the second trimester of pregnancy.

Of course, even this proposed change is filled with caveats and exemptions. Ansell writes, “This would be a moderate change, but our hope is that it will command widespread support across the House, regardless of MPs’ general views on abortion.”

This can’t exactly be compared to Neil Armstrong’s “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” but it nevertheless would a great step forward for the littlest astronauts.

Categories: Premature babies