Legal discussion on abortion has concerned the autonomy of the pregnant woman as balanced against the rights of the foetus.Does such a balance sufficiently address the moral conscience of today's society…
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This tends one to doubt about the collective moral conscience of the society.The rampant increase in the number of abortions in the UK since the Abortion Act 1967 is the proof that how easily the basic moral concepts of a nation could be overthrown by certain constitutional amendments. This paper tries to discuss the prevailing legal codes on abortion in U.K and it seeks to explore whether the law provides equal attention and priority to both the autonomy of the pregnant woman and the rights of the foetus. While law fails to prevent abortion one needs to imbibe values from the prevailing social and ethical codes in the society to protect the rights of the foetus.Thus,the paper also tries to find out how the moral conscience of the society responds to the legal issues on abortion.The Abortion Act 1967:The women of United Kingdom no longer needed to lurk behind the shadows to get their pregnancy terminated since the introduction of the Abortion Act.Though the law had its own provisions to safeguard the rights of the foetus or to prevent unwanted practices, the actual result was quite suspicious.The abortion act 1967 permitted abortion legal up to 28 weeks gestation until 1990 when the law was amended by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act; according to the amendment abortion became legal only up to 24 weeks except where it was necessary to save the life of the woman, extreme foetal abnormality or there was a serious risk of physical injury to the woman ...
The provisions of the act restates that "a person shall not be guilty of an offence under the law relating to abortion when a pregnancy is terminated by a registered medical practitioner if two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith" (Abortion Act 1967 (c. 87). Though the law insists the consent of two doctors and counselling to the client, in usual practice none of these instructions are strictly followed. The Act has helped the emergence of many business groups in the UK and the case has been performed with little seriousness. The Act also recommends that the termination of foetus could be in a situation when "the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risks to the life of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated" (Abortion Act 1967. c.87).
Recent statistics: The abortion statistics after the introduction of the abortion act of 1967 is quite alarming and demands immediate reconsideration. The UK Abortion Statistics points out that since the introduction of the ACT the abortion ratio has increased considerably: "In 2007, the total number of abortions on residents of England and Wales was 198,500 compared with 193,700 in 2006, a rise of 2.5%" (Facts about Abortion: U.K. Abortion Statistics). The BBC News makes clear the adverse effects of the act on the lives of the foetus: "The number of abortions carried out has been rising ever since the 1967 Abortion Act with just over 22000 terminations in the first year" (BBC News: Abortion Increase in Young Girls 2008). The noticeable growth in the number of abortions since 1967 shows the dominance of a new theory over the British society. The absence of moral enforcement has been gradually engulfing the social setup as many thinkers had warned about. The government
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