Select Committee on Science and Technology

No. 45 of Session 2006-07 20 June 2007

NEW INQUIRY

SCIENTIFIC DEVELOPMENTS RELATING TO THE ABORTION ACT 1967

The Science and Technology Committee agreed at its meeting today to conduct an inquiry into scientific developments relating to the Abortion Act 1967.

The inquiry will focus on:

1. the scientific and medical evidence relating to the 24-week upper time limit on most legal abortions, including:

(a) developments, both in the UK and internationally since 1990, in medical interventions and examination techniques that may inform definitions of foetal viability; and

(b) whether a scientific or medical definition of serious abnormality is required or desirable in respect of abortion allowed beyond 24 weeks;

2. medical, scientific and social research relevant to the impact of suggested law reforms to first trimester abortions, such as:

(a) the relative risks of early abortion versus pregnancy and delivery;

(b) the role played by the requirement for two doctors' signatures; and

(c) the practicalities and safety of allowing nurses or midwives to carry out abortions or of allowing the second stage of early medical abortions to be carried out at the patient's home; and

3. evidence of long-term or acute adverse health outcomes from abortion or from the restriction of access to abortion.

The Committee will not be looking at the ethical or moral issues associated with abortion time limits.

The Committee would welcome written evidence from interested organisations and individuals addressing these points by Monday 2 September 2007.

Oral evidence sessions will commence in the Autumn.

Guidelines for the submission of evidence

Evidence should be submitted in Word format (version no later than word 2002), and should be sent via e-mail to [email protected] . The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from.

Submissions should be as brief as possible, and certainly no more than 3,000 words. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document should include a brief executive summary. Those submitting evidence are reminded that evidence should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted no public use should be made of it, but those wishing to publish their evidence before it is published by the Committee are invited to contact the Clerk of the Committee to obtain permission to do so. Guidance on the submission of evidence may be helpful.

For media inquiries please call Laura Kibby on 020 7219 0718. For any other information please call Ana Ferreira, on 020 7219 2793. Previous press notices and publications are available on the Committee's website.

Notes to editors:

€ Under the terms of Standing Order No. 152 the Science and Technology Committee is empowered to examine the "expenditure, policy and administration of the Office of Science and Innovation and its associated public bodies". The Committee was appointed on 19 July 2005.

Committee Membership

Mr Phil Willis (Lib Dem, Harrogate and Knaresborough)(Chairman)
Adam Afriyie (Con, Windsor)
Mr Robert Flello (Lab, Stoke-on-Trent South)
Linda Gilroy (Lab/Co-op, Plymouth Sutton)
Dr Evan Harris (Lib Dem, Oxford West & Abingdon)
Dr Brian Iddon (Lab, Bolton South East)
Chris Mole (Lab, Ipswich)
Mr Brooks Newmark (Con, Braintree)
Graham Stringer (Lab, Manchester, Blackley)
Bob Spink (Con, Castle Point)
Dr Desmond Turner (Lab, Brighton Kemptown)