HC Deb 04 June 1964 vol 695 cc1219-20
1. Commander Kerans

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will introduce legislation to bring up to date those Sections of the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861, which deal with abortion.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Henry Brooke)

I have no present plans for legislation on this subject.

Commander Kerans

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that there are many establishments performing abortions, in many cases in appalling circumstances, and that this causes hardship to many young girls and a lot of misery in the homes? If my right hon. Friend wants details, the Abortion Law Reform Society can supply a considerable mass of details covering the last few years. Surely doctors in this country should have greater freedom, especially on eugenic and rape grounds, to perform abortions. It is over a hundred years since the last legislation on the subject was introduced. Surely it is a matter that the Government should consider now.

Mr. Brooke

My hon. and gallant Friend knows that this is a highly controversial question. He has referred to the views of doctors. I am sure that he is also aware that there is a very strong body of opinion in the medical profession in favour of leaving the law as it is.

Mr. K. Robinson

Does the Minister's Answer mean that he is satisfied with the present Statute and with all the consequences that flow from it, or does it merely mean that the Government regard it as inexpedient to embark on such controversial legislation at this stage of this Parliament?

Mr. Brooke

Certainly not the latter. I am never satisfied, but I have doubts whether it is now appropriate to introduce legislation to amend this Act.

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