MP in final bid to curb abortions

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The Independent Online
DAVID ALTON, the "pro-life" Liberal Democrat MP who last week announced he was quitting Parliament, is to make a final attempt to tighten up the abortion laws.

The Movement for Christian Democracy, which he co-founded and in which he remains a prominent figure, is drafting legislation for introduction to Parliament in the next session

Options under consideration include making it a criminal offence to cause pain to the unborn child or requiring women seeking an abortion to sign a document giving permission for pain to be inflicted on the foetus.

The "pro-life" campaigners plan to insert amendments along these lines into the Government's Criminal Justice Bill or take advantage of a Private Member's Bill if one of their supporters in Parliament fares well in the ballot for such bills.

Private cross-party talks on strategy have already taken place, Mr Alton confirmed. "There are discussions going on. I could introduce the measure, or it could well be a Conservative."

The Movement for Christian Democracy, which now has 10,000 members and describes itself as a serious instrument of political change, claims that foetal pain is detectable at nine weeks, when the most common form of abortion is suction using an instrument "nine times more powerful than a vacum cleaner".

In the case of abortions after three months, says the MCD, dilation and evacuation is used, "when the unborn child is dismembered in the womb and then extracted piece by piece".

The movement is circulating a petition for presentation to Parliament on foetal pain, arguing: ''It is our view that recognition of the unborn baby's ability to feel pain is a crucial stage in confirming the humanity of the unborn child and changing the culture of abortion."

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children welcomed the proposal for change in principle: ''We are very interested in the movement's ideas," it said.

But the Birth Control Trust reacted with horror. A spokeswoman said: ''This is a very insidious move. It relies on bad, unproved science and is clearly intended to introduce an element of guilt for both doctors and women seeking abortions."

The British Medical Association said it would certainly oppose the legislative moves. Dr Fleur Fisher, head of ethics of the BMA, said: ''The current law is a humane piece of legislation, and we have always backed it."

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