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New statistics on premature births expose outdated abortion law, say pro-life MPs

Close up of premature baby's foot (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Pro-life MPs have called for reform of the abortion law in England and Wales after new statistics show that babies born at 23 weeks have a one in three chance of survival.

The 23-week survival rate in England and Wales was 23 per cent in 2010 and fell to 20 per cent in 2011, but has since risen since calling into question the current abortion limit of 24 weeks in England and Wales.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that in 2014, 33 per cent of babies born at 23 weeks reached their first birthday. The chances of life for babies born at 24 weeks has also risen.

Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton and chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, told the Daily Mail that the figures highlight “how shocking it is that our current law does not recognise the rights and immense value of a baby at that stage it its life”.

She said: “In the rest of Europe, the term limit for abortions is generally around 12 weeks, apart from exceptional circumstances. So at 20 weeks, a baby in France or Germany has more rights than a baby in the UK. This is not right.

“Medical care has advanced and the law needs to catch up. Increasingly, these children can survive and live lives as fulfilled and valuable as any of us, and they should be given the chance to do so.”

Meanwhile, the MP for Hull North, Diana Johnson is seeking to further liberalise the current abortion law which she describes as “Victorian.”

But pro-life Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent, Robert Flello said: “I think the public is behind a reduction in time limits and not abortion up to birth, which obviously is what decriminalisation would open the door to.

“Those behind the move to decriminalise abortion are clear about their agenda – it is nothing to do with science, nothing to do with morality, it is simply a free-for-all.”