Major rallies took place in London on Saturday to mark the 40th anniversary of the Act which made abortion legal in the UK. Campaigners from a number of pro-life groups gathered at the Houses of Parliament to call for a reduction in the upper time limit for abortion. They then walked to Westminster Cathedral for a service commemorating 6.7m abortions performed since 1967. The groups began their protest on Friday night when they projected the number of abortions on to the riverside face of the Houses of Parliament. In the 40 years since abortion has been legal in Britain, the number of terminations taking place each year has increased from 22,000 to almost 200,000. Julia Millington, political co-ordinator for Alive and Kicking, the pro-life alliance organising Saturday's events, said the campaign was intended to raise awareness of the rising number of abortions and call for a change in the law. She said: "We believe there is increasing public concern about these latest figures and we want to draw attention to this anniversary." However, on Wednesday Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said the government did not believe there is sufficient scientific evidence to lower the legal abortion limit of 24 weeks. She said nothing had persuaded the Department of Health that survival rates had improved for extremely premature babies born before that time. Lord Steel, who introduced the 1967 act, suggested he would like to see lower abortion rates, but he said there was no such thing as a "correct" number and that each case had to be considered "on its merits". Dr Kate Worsley, from Marie Stopes International, agreed that more had to be done to bring rates down, such as providing better sex education and provision of contraceptives. "But the main point is that they're safe, whereas [in] about 50% of countries in the world, women are still having unsafe abortions," she argued. The Human Tissue and Embryos Bill, expected to be introduced into Parliament after the Queen's Speech on 6th November, will open up the entire 1967 Abortion Act to possible amendment. Jim Dobbin, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, said he hoped the Act would be amended. He said "the moving testimonies and thorough research we have heard, present a conclusive case for Parliament to reconsider the abortion law because of the psychological and physical effects on women."
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