In a written submission to the government's Science and Technology Committee inquiry on abortion, the Pro-Life Alliance has called for the time limit on social abortions to be cut from 24 weeks to 16 weeks. The Human Tissue and Embryos Bill will be debated next month. But Dr Tony Calland, chair of the BMA's medical ethics committee, said that after debating the issue, his organisation felt that despite "very considerable" scientific advances, the time limit should stay the same. "We still felt that the number of foetuses below 24 weeks who survived successfully was really extremely small," he said. Dr Calland also said he wanted to remove the requirement for a woman wanting an abortion in the first three months to gain permission from two different doctors. Dr Vincent Argent, former Medical Director of BPAS, said: "The law is being routinely flouted by doctors who sign batches of abortion forms before patients are even seen for consultation and sign forms without seeing, examining or reading the notes of the patient." He added that doctors often make no attempt to form an opinion, in good faith, that the patient fulfils the grounds of the Abortion Act. As the requirement for two doctors to sign the abortion form is often considered a mere formality Dr Argent submits that consideration should be given to abolishing this requirement. "It is encouraging to see that even some of those working in the abortion industry recognise that the current abortion time limit must be reduced," said Julia Millington of the ProLife Alliance. "We are opposed to all abortion and therefore an abortion at 16 weeks is no more acceptable than an abortion at"24 weeks however a reduction in the time limit will, at least, save some lives. "With abortion on demand in the UK and annual figures escalating, it is extraordinary that the major concern of the pro-choice lobby is the abolition of the doctors' role in the consultation process, plus increased use of self-administered medical abortion. "We have always supported the right to life of the unborn but we are also seriously concerned about the health and welfare of women. Our current campaign runs under the strapline, 'Women deserve better than abortion', and they most certainly deserve better than this latest callous proposal from the pro-choice lobby. "They pass from the gruesome rhetoric of the back street abortion without proper medical care, to themselves promoting it in the back bedroom. Neither is desirable and women will never be the winners with such an approach. "Copious peer-reviewed evidence has been submitted to the Science & Technology Committee on the medical and mental sequella of abortion, and we should all be working together to create a society where women do not have to face such risks." *Saturday 27 October is the 40th anniversary of the Abortion Act 1967. Since 1967 there have been 6.7 million abortions in the UK and the annual numbers continue to rise. There will be a rally in Old Palace Yard outside Parliament on Saturday 27th October followed by a march and a service of remembrance at Westminster Cathedral. Other events around the country are also planned. Details of all the events can be found at: www.timeforchange.org.uk
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