The British Medical Association (BMA) has re-affirmed its commitment to the 24-week time limit for abortions, following a vote by its membership.
A strong majority (61%) of members of the BMA voted against a motion to cut the association’s support for the current time limit, from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. Around a third of delegates at the association’s annual conference in Cardiff voted in favour of the motion (32%), while 7% abstained.
The chairman of the BMA’s ethics committee, Dr Tony Calland, said that there was no evidence that the limit should be cut from a medical or scientific viewpoint.
Quoted in the Guardian, Dr Calland said: “There’s recent evidence that once you slip below 23 weeks it’s extremely difficult to ensure that the child survives.
“It’s a difficult issue but we have got to a position where it works. I would ask you not to change BMA policy on this issue. It’s already where it should be, based on the evidence.”
The BMA chairman, Dr Hamish Meldrum, called the motion “badly drafted” and urged delegates to reject it.
The motion’s rejection by the BMA’s members is heartening news for supporters of the pro-choice movement. However, the fact that the motion was brought at all – and that nearly a third of delegates voted in favour of it – is a reminder of the need for vigilance on the subject of abortion rights, in order to stop any erosion in the range of options currently available.