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abortion-2
(02/02/06) -

Britons Divided Over Existing Abortion Regulations

(Angus Reid Global Scan) – Adults in Britain hold differing opinions on pregnancy termination, according to a poll by MORI published in The Observer. 42 per cent of respondents believe the current 24-week limit for abortions should be reduced, while four per cent think it should be increased.

(Angus Reid Global Scan) – Adults in Britain hold differing opinions on pregnancy termination, according to a poll by MORI published in The Observer. 42 per cent of respondents believe the current 24-week limit for abortions should be reduced, while four per cent think it should be increased.

Conversely, 10 per cent of respondents think abortion should be illegal, and 33 per cent are satisfied with the current regulations.

Since 1967, British women have had the right to an abortion. The procedure can presently take place only in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. Any change to existing regulations would be subject to a vote in the House of Commons.

Abortion briefly became a political topic in 2005 after Cosmopolitan magazine published the views of the three main party leaders on the issue. Labour’s Tony Blair said he “disliked” the idea, adding, “You should not criminalize a woman who, in very difficult circumstances, makes that choice.” Conservative leader Michael Howard said abortion “should be available to everyone” but suggested lowering the legal limit from 24 weeks of gestation to 20 weeks. Liberal Democrat Charles Kennedy said he had voted for a 22-week limit on abortion, but said, “I don’t know what I would do now”.

British women do not have to pay for an abortion if they qualify for the procedure under the terms of the National Health Service (NHS). Health secretary Patricia Hewitt expressed her views on the topic, declaring, “I would not want to see the legal maximum changed and this, quite rightly, has always been left to backbench Members of Parliament in private members’ bills, and not government bills.”

Polling Data

The current legal time period for an abortion to take place is when a woman is up to 24 weeks pregnant. That is, women are allowed to have an abortion at any time within the first 24 weeks of her pregnancy. Do you believe that this time limit should be reduced (i.e. should be less than 24 weeks), increased (i.e. should be more than 24 weeks), or is it about right?

 

All

Male

Female

I do not believe in abortion
under any circumstances

10%

9%

10%

Reduced (the legal time limit for an
abortion should be less than 24 weeks)

42%

36%

47%

Increased (the legal time limit for an
abortion should be more than 24 weeks)

4%

5%

2%

The current time limit is about right

33%

35%

31%

Don’t know

10%

13%

7%

Refused

2%

2%

2%

Source: MORI / The Observer
Methodology: Online interviews with 1,790 British adults, conducted from Jan. 6 to Jan. 10, 2006. No margin of error was provided.