Reforms could allow 'abortion on demand throughout pregnancy'

Repealing a 150-year-old law that criminalises abortion could eliminate certain safeguards and allow "abortion on demand throughout pregnancy", MPs have heard.

Tory and DUP MPs stood to oppose the proposal to repeal certain sections of the Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA) 1861, saying it would "impose" one of the most liberal abortion regimes anywhere in the world.

Labour MP Stella Creasy told the Commons reform was needed as at present women "cannot control what happens to their own body".

However Tory MP Fiona Bruce argued if the change were to go ahead "the Abortion Act's safeguards would in fact be removed".

The Congleton MP added: "The proposers of this debate clearly want to go further, they want to decriminalise our legislation to remove the safeguards that have been in place.

"Already we have some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world and yet campaigners want to I believe liberalise them further.

"Colleagues should be under no illusions, repealing these sections of the OAPA would effectively pave the way to review comprehensively our current abortion legislation, not just for Northern Ireland but also for England and Wales.

"We could see abortion on demand throughout pregnancy, that would be wrong and we should resist it."

The DUP's equality spokeswoman Emma Little Pengelly added: "What this proposal would do would be to impose on the people of Northern Ireland one of the most liberal abortion regimes anywhere in the world - abortion on demand up to 24 weeks - in the absence of a regime or guidelines because currently those do not exist and if this went ahead there would be nothing there apart from the legality and decriminalisation up to 24 weeks."