On 3rd April 2014 the Bishop of Leicester, Rt Rev Tim Stevens, spoke during a short debate in the Lords on abortion, tabled by Baroness Knight of Collingtree. The debate title was: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to investigate reported law breaking by those carrying out terminations of pregnancies.” The Bishop said:
The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, whatever our differing positions on the ethics of abortion, it must be a matter of widespread concern if there is the appearance of a long-standing gap between the spirit of the Abortion Act and the interpretation of the law. This is a matter of particular interest to many in the churches because of a theological commitment to the sanctity of human life, including potential human life.
Continue reading “Abortion on grounds of gender or disability: Bishop of Leicester raises concerns”
Baroness Knight of Collingtree asked Her Majesty’s Government what action they intend to take in the light of recent analysis of the ratio of boys and girls in United Kingdom families suggesting that sex-selective abortion is taking place.
The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, there is an opportunity coming up where this can be underlined. At the moment, the procedures for the approval of independent sector places for the termination of pregnancy are being revised. Will Her Majesty’s Government undertake to ensure that they spell out clearly and unequivocally that termination on grounds of gender alone is illegal and that an appeal on gender alone is insufficient to satisfy the mental health criteria of the Abortion Act?
Earl Howe: My Lords, as I have said, the guidance to abortion providers will be updated and that will include the guidance to independent sector providers. It will be made abundantly clear that gender selection is illegal.
On 10th October 2013, Baroness Knight of Collingtree asked Her Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to ensure that medical professionals offering to perform abortions on the grounds of gender are prosecuted. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, does not this case, and in particular the letter from the Director of Public Prosecutions, taken together with the overall fact that, I believe, nearly a quarter of recognised pregnancies are deliberately ended in the womb, call for a comprehensive review of the operation of the Act in its entirety?
Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I am certainly cognisant of the strong views that are held about this Act and its operation. One of the clear things emerging from this case is the great need to have clearer guidance for doctors on how to carry out their functions and the tests that are set down in Section 1 of the Abortion Act. I am confident that that will now be addressed. Certainly, the Crown Prosecution Service stands ready to assist in any way to provide that clarity.