Opposing the Decriminalisation of Abortion

The government's flagship Criminal Justice Bill has four important amendments that could fundamentally change our laws on abortion. Please take action and make your voice heard.

The government’s flagship Criminal Justice Bill has four important amendments, that will likely be debated and voted on shortly in the House of Commons, that could fundamentally change our laws on abortion. We uphold the dignity and value of every human life from conception to natural end and have clear views on these amendments.

New Clause 1 (NC1) – Decriminalisation

An amendment New Clause 1 (NC1) has been tabled by Dame Diana Johnson MP. This amendment would remove offences that make it illegal for a woman to perform her own abortion at any point right through to birth. These changes to the law would apply throughout all nine months of pregnancy and would create a situation where abortion, including sex-selective abortion, is legal at any stage.

As Pope Francis says: “It is troubling to see how simple and convenient it has become for some to deny the existence of a human life as a solution to problems that can and must be solved for both the mother and her unborn child”. In England and Wales, both unborn child and pregnant mother deserve full protection under our laws, as some of the most vulnerable in our society. We would encourage MPs to oppose this amendment.

New Clause 15 (NC15) – Upper Limit

This amendment has been tabled by Caroline Ansell MP, representing a cross-party group of 25 MPs, with a view to changing the law to lower the abortion time limit from 24 weeks to 22 weeks. Due to advances in medical science, many babies can now survive before Britain’s 24-week limit. The current limit is also double that of most of our neighbouring countries. We would encourage MPs to support this amendment.

New Clause 40 (NC40) – Decriminalisation

This amendment in the name of Stella Creasy MP and others would decriminalise abortion up to 24 weeks and remove custodial sentences for abortions carried out any stage. We would encourage MPs to oppose this amendment.

New Clause 41 (NC41) – Down syndrome

This amendment, tabled by Liam Fox MP would mean that terminations would not be allowed beyond 24 weeks where any risk is purely on the grounds of a diagnosis of Down syndrome. We would encourage MPs to support this amendment.

MPs voting on abortion laws

Some people have asked how Catholic MPs can vote on the Criminal Justice Bill amendment seeking to lower the abortion time limit to 22 weeks from 24 weeks. The Holy See offers useful guidance on this from Pope Francis’ predecessors.

In November 2002, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (now Dicastery), issued a Doctrinal Note on ‘Some Questions regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life signed by its then-Prefect Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Section 4 of this note refers to Pope Saint John Paul II’s Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae. Paragraph 73 of the encyclical states:

“When it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

Bishop's Statement on abortion amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill

Bishop John Sherrington, Lead Bishop for Life Issues, has released a statement on the Criminal Justice Bill expressing his deep concern about two tabled amendments that seek to liberalise abortion laws.

Contact my MP - Opposing the Decriminalisation of Abortion

Write to your local MP to make your voice heard on this important issue.