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A British Abortionist Argues for a 16 Week Time Limit

John on May 18, 2008 at 9:49 am

Over the next couple days, Parliament is debating a new “embryology” bill which seems to have become something of a human life omnibus package. One of the amendments being offered is an attempt to lower the legal limit on abortion to something under the current 24 weeks. In today’s Telegraph an abortionist named Dr. Vincent Argent argues the limit should be 16 weeks:

Some will rely on religious convictions to guide their decisions. But, although I was brought up a Roman Catholic, any religious beliefs I ever had have left me.

Instead, in urging MPs to reduce dramatically the time limit, I look to more than 30 years’ experience in abortion services for the NHS and private clinics, to my time as medical director of one of Britain’s largest abortion services, and to my knowledge of where public opinion stands in this area.

[...]When it comes to abortion, a lot of the debate is somewhat euphemistic; the pro-lobby prefer to talk about “terminations” of “foetuses”. But if an IVF clinic shows you the first scan of your baby in the womb, you won’t find them using the word foetus to describe it. We are killing babies far older than that, and if we are going to have an honest debate then we have got to be straight about that.

Although I was brought up a Roman Catholic, I do believe in a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. The days of backstreet abortions were dangerous and I am glad, in this country, that they are long gone. In fact I would support amendments to the Bill which would make it easier to get an abortion earlier, perhaps by removing the need to get the consent of two doctors.

But late abortion is a different matter.

The Conservative MP Nadine Dorries is campaigning to reduce the limit to 20 weeks. In the full knowledge of what is involved in late abortions, and the widespread distaste for them among the medical profession, I would go further, and support an amendment proposing 16 weeks.

I am not alone. Within the NHS, the majority of doctors are refusing to carry out late abortions. Three quarters of late procedures are now carried out by private clinics. At Eastbourne Hospital, where I worked for 19 years, the medical staff eventually decided we would perform no abortions on social grounds after 14 weeks.


Most people do not realise just how distressing late abortions can be. The procedure remains the last taboo. While heart and brain surgery are regularly shown on television, the reality of a late abortion has never been seen on British screens.

There are two main types of procedure; the medical type, which kills the baby via medication, meaning that the woman miscarries a stillborn. If the baby is 22 weeks or older, it will be given a lethal injection in the womb, to ensure it is not born alive. Alternatively the surgical procedure uses instruments to remove parts of the dismembered body from the uterus, limb by limb. It is hard to describe how it feels to pull out parts of a baby, to see arms, and bits of leg, and finally the head.

Given the nature of this experience, it greatly concerns me how lightly some of these decisions are made.

For every woman who comes late to the clinic because she did not realise she was pregnant, there will be another who feels it is simply their right to have an abortion whenever they like, and feels no need to explain herself at all. A third will seek a late abortion because her circumstances have changed. It might be a change of job; a relationship has broken down; her partner is now in prison; perhaps money is tight. For me, these are no reasons to carry out such a distressing procedure.

Recently, one woman came to me at the age of 42. After years of IVF treatment, she had finally conceived for the first time. Yet, when she found out she was carrying twins she wanted to have one aborted.

For me, that is the ultimate illustration of a throwaway society.

If only the abortion laws in the US were as conservative as the ones in the UK. Because it has been declared essentially a human right in the US, abortion is legal up until the day of delivery (on grounds of medical necessity including “mental distress”). This is junk science at its worst.

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Category: Pro-Life |

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