Why baby Abi, who was strong enough to become the youngest patient ever to survive abdominal surgery at 23 weeks, proves the inhumanity of Britain’s abortion laws
- Little Abi Peters was born at 23 weeks at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey, Surrey
- She weighed 1.3lbs, 609g, and immediately underwent major abdominal surgery
- Abi made headlines for being the youngest person to survive such an operation
The sheer inhumanity of our current abortion laws has been brought into stark relief. First, there was the case of little Abi Peters, born at 23 weeks at St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey. She immediately underwent major abdominal surgery and doctors gave her ‘less than a 10 per cent chance’. But she pulled through — making headlines as the youngest patient ever to survive such surgery.
But, extraordinary as Abi’s story undoubtedly is, the survival of a baby born at just 23 weeks is becoming less and less unusual. As many as 70 per cent of babies delivered at 23 weeks now survive at some hospitals, figures show.
Yet in the very same hospitals where doctors are battling to save babies such as Abi, healthy pregnancies of up to 24 weeks and six days are being terminated under our increasingly outdated abortion laws. Meanwhile, the Mail’s shocking exposé this week on the reality of abortion at one of the UK’s biggest providers — Marie Stopes — revealed that doctors are signing off thousands of abortions every year for women whom they have never even seen in person.
Abi Peters (pictured with her parents Louise and David) is believed to be the youngest ever patient to survive major abdominal surgery
Abi was born at 23 weeks at St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey, and immediately underwent major abdominal surgery
The law requires all abortions in the UK to be signed off by two doctors — who must agree ‘in good faith’ that continuing with a pregnancy would cause a woman more medical or emotional damage than having an abortion.
But at Marie Stopes, doctors were found to be bulk-signing consent forms agreeing to abortions without ever meeting the women involved — often based on a one-sentence description jotted down by a call-centre worker of why a woman wants the procedure.
This chilling ‘conveyor belt’ process — as one former Marie Stopes doctor described it — is the very opposite of what the original drafters of the 1967 Abortion Act had envisaged.
They wanted to protect a small number of highly vulnerable young women from dangerous back-street terminations.
For them, the new law was the lesser of two evils. They could never have foreseen a day when their efforts would allow almost 200,000 legal abortions to be carried out per year.
When she was born, Abi was smaller than surgeon Zahid Mukhtar’s hand (pictured)
The truth is that a sane, sensible, national debate on how to reform the Abortion Act is long overdue.
Some 50 years after its inception, the Act now reflects neither the scientific reality — after huge advances in neonatal medicine — or the dehumanised, industrial practices in today’s abortion clinics.
The limit of 24 weeks is too late when we have so many babies being born even earlier and surviving. Science has moved on and adjustments in the law are urgently needed to take account of that.
And the fact that the law can be so easily circumvented by the likes of Marie Stopes International — allowing them to carry out abortions in a way Parliament never intended — is nothing short of a disgrace.
So what is preventing us having a considered debate?
It is the small but highly vocal feminist lobby — which is determined to prevent any discussion at all around abortion time limits and practices.
A good example of their blocking tactics came when an attempt was made in Parliament in 2015 to criminalise doctors who were carrying out abortions on the grounds of sex-selection.
Sadly, in some communities, there is a strong preference for male children; one study by Oxford University found evidence that Indian women giving birth in Britain were terminating more female than male unborn babies between 1990 and 2005.
I am convinced that the vast majority of right-minded people do not want pregnancies ended merely because the mother wants a boy, and not a girl.
So why didn’t this apparently uncontroversial amendment to our abortion laws — proposed by Tory MP Fiona Bruce with cross-party support — get through?
The answer is that the feminist lobby went into overdrive — especially within the Labour Party — and scuppered it.
A ‘miracle’ baby born four months prematurely survived after London doctors performed a ground-breaking operation to save her
As champions of female equality, you might have expected them to be the first to speak out against this barbaric practice — which is perhaps the ultimate manifestation of gender prejudice, and which so cruelly devalues the lives of women and girls.
But so blinkered are they in their pro-choice agenda that they refuse to countenance further restrictions on abortion in any circumstances.
In fact, they want further liberalisation — including doing away with the need for doctors to give their consent and abortion on demand right up to birth.
Professor Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, is an example of this extremism.
Last year, without consulting her membership, she signed the college up to a campaign to decriminalise abortion — sweeping away the existing 24-week limit, and allowing a woman the unrestricted right to terminate a healthy pregnancy.
Unsurprisingly, many midwives — who joined their profession expressly to care for women and their babies and see them safely through pregnancy and childbirth — were horrified. Hundreds have since signed an open letter calling on Professor Warwick to revoke the college’s support for the extreme agenda.
For some, a source of additional discomfort was the fact that at the same time as heading the Royal College of Midwives, Professor Warwick was chairman of trustees at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) — an organisation lobbying powerfully in favour of abolishing the abortion time limit.
Little Abi (pictured with her parents) was given a ‘less than 10 per cent chance of success’
Astonishingly, Warwick claimed at the time to see no conflict of interest between her two roles.
In America, the feminist bullies are, if anything, even more zealous than in Britain. There are many pro-life campaigners there, but they, too, have been essentially excluded from their national conversation by the feminists.
This was made clear in the women’s marches that followed Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Not all pro-life women support Trump despite his campaign pledge to tighten America’s abortion laws. Many object to other aspects of his policies, which is why one pro-life group tried to join the anti-Trump march in Washington DC. The feminists banned them from even being there to express their views. Such intolerance is taking all us women in completely the wrong direction.
In Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark and Italy, the law allows abortion up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy — there’s no demand for two doctors to sign, though some countries insist on mandatory counselling — but after that time, terminating a healthy baby with a healthy mother is all but impossible.
Here in Britain, though, we have the worst of all worlds: abortion of healthy babies up to 24 weeks; and, despite the letter of the law, effectively abortion on demand up to that time, on a scale that many reasonable people believe is intolerable.
How interesting that other European countries are now considering tightening their abortion laws. For example, in Norway, midwives have voiced concerns about the number of healthy babies — sufficiently viable to survive outside the womb — that were being aborted on ‘social grounds’ beyond the usual 12-week limit.
Their intervention in this traditionally liberal country led to a change in the law. ‘Abortion should not happen in foetuses who have the possibility of being able to live,’ said the health minister, Anne Grethe Erlandsen, in 2014.
The fact is that plenty of women ministers in socialist countries are rejecting the argument that attempting to reduce the time limit on abortion is anti-women.
The indisputable fact is that, across Europe, many liberals are increasingly coming to regard late-term abortions as barbaric. In some cases, babies in late abortions are born alive and have to be left to die.
She was born at 23 weeks at St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey, (pictured) and is believed to be the youngest ever patient to survive major abdominal surgery
In 2008, some 66 babies survived botched abortions in Britain. About half were alive for an hour. One survived ten hours.
How can we call ourselves a civilised country when we allow this to happen? How can the doctors who signed the consent forms for these abortions square the consequences with the Hippocratic oath?
These shocking figures illustrate that the debate about abortion cannot be framed as one purely about private decisions. It is about who we are as a society, and about what all of us — men and women — believe is right or wrong.
Yet the Establishment seems to prefer to ignore the fact that the lives of viable, healthy unborn children are being terminated and that, as the Mail has revealed, a doctor’s proper role in the legal process is being replaced by call centre workers.
So what needs to change?
It is no good waiting for politicians to make sensible amendments to the law to reflect the changing circumstances, when it is clear that a militant feminist lobby will shoot down every effort at reform.
This lobby is too often given a platform by organisations such as the BBC to present this as a polarised debate between good and bad: pro-choice and pro-life.
Of course, I will be dismissed as a pro-lifer with an agenda to ban abortion completely.
But that’s not so. Like those behind the 1967 Abortion Act, most people see abortion as a necessary evil.
The laws passed against a background of the widespread fear that, without change, there risked being a return to back-street abortions. So we urgently need to find a compromise.
I would suggest that the words of former U.S. president Bill Clinton may provide a starting point. Abortions, he said, should be ‘safe, legal and rare’.
But that is not what is happening now in Britain. And we should no longer condone it by our silence.
- Laura Perrins is a former barrister and the co-editor of The Conservative Woman.
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