Abortion (On the Grounds of Disability)

Thank you for contacting me about the extremely serious issue of abortion.

I completely understand what an incredibly emotive issue this is, and I appreciate the strength of feelings on both sides. It is for this reason that, as with other matters of conscience, the Government adopts a neutral stance on abortion, allowing Conservative MPs to vote freely according to their moral, ethical, or religious beliefs. This is a convention which I support wholeheartedly. When this Bill comes before Parliament, I will look at it closely and vote as I have outlined above. I will look at the levels of foetal abnormality and I have to say I very much share some of your concerns and will scrutinise the Bill closely when preparing to cast my vote.

The approach to abortion in Great Britain is set out in the Abortion Act 1967, which states that two doctors must certify that, in their opinion, a request for an abortion meets at least one and the same ground laid out in the Act. These grounds include “risk to the life of the pregnant woman”, and “substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped”.

Not every pregnancy goes to plan and foetal abnormalities of varying degree of severity occur.  Women need support and information to reach an informed decision about how to proceed. Health professionals must adopt a supportive and non-judgemental approach regardless of whether the decision is to terminate or continue the pregnancy.

I am encouraged that guidance for doctors on how to comply with the Act has been issued, which stipulates that registered medical practitioners should be able to show how they have considered the particular facts and circumstances of a case when forming their opinion. Full details can be found online at www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-doctors-on-compliance-with-the-abortion-act.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

With best wishes

Neil