Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Fall-Out From the Abortion Debate

I don't mind admitting to being astounded at the size of the majorities against a reduction in the abortion term limit last night. I think even those who favoured the status quo were equally surprised. Suspicions remain that there was an unofficial Labour whipping operation, but even if there was, the votes for 20 weeks just weren't there. I haven't looked at the division lists yet, but I suspect a decent number of 2005 intake MPs on the Tory side may have voted for 24 weeks. It certainly didn't help when the Tory frontbench sent confusing signals by tabling a 22 week amendment either.

Has this issue been permanently put to bed? No. And nor should it be. It deserves periodic debate and review and I fully expect it to be revisited after a change of government. I'm not sure the outcome will be any different, though, as I suspect the 2010 intake of Tory MPs will have more so-called 'progressive' views than their predecessors.

In some ways, the only winner to emerge from last night was Parliament as an institution. It was a good debate full of powerful speeches. And because of that it got reported in full by the media. Government business managers should learn a lesson from that. The way to revive imterest in parliamentary debates is to have more free voutes and more set piece debates on issues people really care about.

80 comments:

Confused of S. Yorks said...

"Suspicions remain that there was an unofficial Labour whipping operation, but even if there was, the votes for 20 weeks just weren't there."

Oh come on Iain, get real. The bottom line was that those in favour of reducing the limit failed to make their case, placing over-reliance on emotive statements rather than sticking to factual evidence.

Nadine Dorries may be a nice person (don't know, never met her), but the shameful way she conducted herself through this campaign did it no favours.


You're right on one point though, it will be very interesting to see which MPs voted for the various reductions, especially David Cameron.

Anonymous said...

I think Nadine Dorries (who spoke very well and clearly about it this morning on Today) is surely right about both the science and ethics side of things.

What seems to clinch it for the "keep it the way it is" vote is the argument that it will send women to the dreaded back street abortionists. This is something out of the 1950s - I very much doubt that any still exist and still fewer would have the skills to earn money. The argument that they will go abroad is valid, but as the total number affected by a reduction to 20 weeks would be small, it would be comparatively easy for the authorities to prosecute those who did it.

The nub of the problem is that the perception of "the woman's right to choose" has gone much too far; no rational or moral society should advocate that a woman has the right to kill a baby that would otherwise have every chance of living.

I think eventually this will become clear at the EU and international level, after which Britain will have to toe the line. In the meantime we have to stay on a stuck 1950s record trotted out by intelligent women in the Labour Party who should know better.

Shaun said...

Yes it is nice to see Parliament used for something other than a platform for glib media soundbites. You do know that this will be the exception, not the rule, right?

Rush-is-Right said...

I have been viscerally opposed to abortion (at any stage) for as long as I can remember.

However I do console myself with the thought that in all probability the overwhelming majority of children killed in this manner would have grown up to support the Labour party.

Like the democrats in the USA they are aborting their own future supporters.

Not a sheep said...

Last night the House of Commons voted not to reduce the upper limit for abortions from 24 weeks. I thought it slightly odd to hear Nadine Dorries being interviewed this morning in the prime just after the 8 o'clock news spot on the Toady programme. Then it all started to make sense, the interview was angled to get the "admission" from Nadine Dorries that Labour MPs were generally more in favour of the right to an abortion than the Conservatives. One of the last points made was that if the Conservatives won the next election then restrictions on abortion would be more possible.

Very nicely done BBC, a bit of "dog-whistle" politics on behalf of the Labour party disguised as news analysis, your friends in the Labour party will be pleased.

Man in a Shed said...

The main way forward fro the pro-Life group is now to target MPs and candidates in marginal constituencies.

Trev said...

Just what is it that left wingers have against an unborn foetus?

Maybe we will have to wait until the EU decrees a single market in abortions.

I don't particularly agree with Ann Widdicombe but she is right when she asks 'how can a society be lovey-dovey over a baby in an incubator one minute and sling a foetus of the same age into an incinerator the next?'

I am not judgemental over abortion, I believe a woman has the right to chose - but in this day an age her options run out before 24 weeks.

Anonymous said...

If killing a baby at 24 weeks is thought to be a 'good thing'

and if it is a woman's responsibility then why are they not responsible enough not to get pregnant - we in the 'swinging sixties' managed fairly well without much recourse to abortion - and no, back street abortions should not resurface

if its a good thing and does not cause the baby distress! Then why is medical funding and expertise spent on striving to keep 24week babies alive when they are born naturally?

Logic does not seem to be part of today's thinking process.

Abortion for very good medical reasons, but many of these young women suffer in later life and it is not easily put right

Wallenstein said...

Parliament and the public are smarter than the 20wk lobby gave them credit for - next time around they should focus on the science and leave emotional manipulation behind.

Eddie said...

As far as I can see the 22-week amendment was tabled by Richard Ottaway with no other signatures to it.

Who said that it was tabled by a frontbencher?

Obnoxio The Clown said...

what fall-out? By all accounts, Parliament actually acquitted itself well of its duties, something which is rare enough these days, and is something to be applauded.

Your support of something which CLEARLY is of no interest in your own life can, I suppose, be attributed to Ms Dorries, who is utterly barking mad on this subject.

I realise that you are friends with her, but a good friend needs to be able to say when someone is wrong, and in this case, Ms Dorries has lost the plot.

StBob said...

I would say a triumph for New Labour wouldnt you? In steering a complex and controversial piece of legislation through an ambivalent back bench and resurgent opposition and have it all passed intact.

Precious moment of the night was the look of bewilderment on an unusually subdued Cardinal who seemed disbelieving that theological arguments didnt win the day. Makes you wonder what the point of all that praying must have been? Maybe God is a Tory moderniser these days.

Stephen Rouse said...

I wouldn't advertise the intention to have another go after a change of government. Plenty of us disillusioned Labourites intend to sit on our hands at the next election and let events take their course. If you chaps start proposing to bring back the Middle Ages, we may have to reconsider our apathy.

Stu said...

The whole thing's been a storm in a tea cup - much ado about nothing, to borrow a line.

Take a look at the graphic at the bottom of the BBC page about it, from ONS, and tell me that all this effort was worthwhile. We retain the status quo purely because a strong enough argument was not made to alter the law. If you wish to have another crack at it, you have to come up with new reasons grounded in facts and evidence with which to fight your case.

Seeing as Tories are supposed to be anti-legislation, I can't help but feel this ought to be a good thing from a Conservative point of view - since when were we the party that criminalised people for making their own choices?

StBob said...

anon 8:41 - you demonstrate perfectly why the pro-lifers dont have a clue. The day after the vote you are rehashing emotive arguments that only a walled-in hermit would have failed to hear in the run-up to the vote (Last Night!). You are so sure of your moral righteousness (no doubt based on dogmatic belief) that you cannot accept that result. So just pretend it never happened. This is called "magical thinking" - its what small children do when they hope they can change reality by wishing the result away.

Matthew Dear said...

I am so desparately disappointed.

It riles me that people frame this debate with statistics. There are very "few" abortions-on-demand after 20 weeks, we say. But we are asserting that babies aborted after 20 weeks suffer considerable pain in the process. We've missed an opportunity to spare some babies pain and suffering - the minimising of which is surely an obligation of governments?

Very "few" babies survive at 20 weeks, we say. But how often, in other spheres do we hear the refrain that "if we can save just one life, it will have been worth it"?

I'm mindful of the diversity of views on this issue - but I am eager to vocalise my digust at the use of figures and statistics, which have no place in ethics whatsoever. We're not talking about the balance of trade, we're talking about the sanctity/potentiality* of life.

(*Delete as appropriate according to your view.)

javelin said...

Most people have been subconsciously influenced by the social pressures.

The key question to ask is at what age does the unborn child get rights - the mothers rights are a secondary issue and should be based WITHIN the age of the child's rights.

The best way to strip away social pressures is to ask the question - At what age would you allow harvesting of unborn children for organs?

This question is important because it asks as what age can an unborn child be terminated to benefit a living person (whether a sibling with a disease or a mother who does not want the child for what ever reason).

I expect most people will be squeamish as harvesting orgrans from a 24 week child, but not killing the child and throwing the body away.

The other objection to the use of this question is that the abortion comes from an accident whilst the harvesting comes from a deliberate act. By Sex by the mother is a deliberate act, there is always the risk of pregnancy (as we men are told by the CSA). So this argument doesn't hold any water.

I'm not saying what the time line should be - but to be consistent the age of abortion has to be same age that you would feel comfortable harvesting organs.

Tom Harris MP said...

Iain - sorry to bang on about this again, but I can assure you there was no whipping operation, except by those backbenchers on both sides of the argument. Nadine's claim that Labour MPs were on a three-line whip "to attend the chamber" is completely false, since there is no such thing as a whip to attend, only to vote. The crucial evidence against this nonsense is that supporting Nadine in her amendment - other than myself - were at least three Labour whips, including the formidable Tommy McAvoy. Case closed.

John Pickworth said...

Overnight I've had a chance to look at the science... don't worry I'm not about to bore you all with it all but I'm left unconvinced there's a pressing need to reduce the abortion limits.

Since the last reduction of the limits there's been almost no improvement in survivability... when there is I'd happily support a return to the issue. Until then I say we move on.

As for Nadine Dorries, I'm deeply suspicious of her motives. She's also just been on the BBC saying how out of touch the Government is because most women supported a reduction... I'm not exactly sure that is true actually?

I'm worried if we don't drop this now, we risk making Brown look 'in-touch' with the people because after all they won the vote.

This is one of those issues that if we keep picking at the wounds then its the Tories that will come out looking bad. Iain's post title doesn't help either "The Fall-Out From the Abortion Debate".

Seriously, there are no political points to be won here... only the risk we might lose some. Let it go.

Anonymous said...

Iain. "The only winner was Parliament"!!!! Come off it Iain.

Of course the Labour Party were whipped. Those useless morans need to be told how and when to vote, they have to mind of their own!

I hope Cameron makes family and abortion/fathers a specific Manifesto promise to return to this debacle and right the wrong.

How on God's earth this can be classed as a victory - killing babies! - in a civilised society is beyond me.

Abortion is another means of birth control.

Last night was a bloody yes bloody bad night for democracy. Do not give it the decency of being classed a 'FREE' vote it most certainly was not.

Anonymous said...

Has this issue been permanently put to bed? No. And nor should it be. It deserves periodic debate and review and I fully expect it to be revisited after a change of government.

Fair enough, Iain, but I do hope you'll show the same even-handedness next time a vote on something goes your way. Because other, less scrupulous, commentators have been known in victory to say "...and now parliament has spoken and it is time to lay this matter to rest."

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why Mr Speaker's chair was empty for the debate?

Gallimaufry said...

If only Parliament could have similar debates on the restoration of the death penalty for murder or am I missing something?

Noelinho said...

It's very sad when people talk about supporting abortion as 'progressives'. We take away the rights of unborn babies because they can't defend themselves and because they are inconvenient to our lives, and the majority of us call our selves 'progressive' for it. It grieves me that our society treats life with such little worth.

Anonymous said...

Like trev @ 8:37

I found Widdicombe's summary of matters succinct and powerful.

I watched the debate and, what a contrast it made with the 'business as usual' whipped matters that we normally see.

I came away knowing more - and to be honest, less certain of what the right thing is to do.

Paul Linford said...

Noelinho 10.50

It grieves me even more when people who support 24-week abortion talk of themselves as "liberals."

I was encouraged by your post on this yesterday Iain advocating a time-limit closer to 14 weeks and hope that Nadine Dorries is right when she suggests that a future Conservative government might look again at this issue. As I have said on my own blog, it is time those of us on the left who feel this way about this issue started to build a coalition with those on the right who may be in a position to do something about it come 2010.

Chris Paul said...

As Confused ... says Nadine Dorries may be a nice person but she really needs to get to confession and do penance for all her porkies. On this issue. And in fact in general on her life story and so on. She does not seem to be able to help herself telling daft fibs almost all of the time.

As Stu says the graphic re timing of terminations at the BBC makes good viewing. Though Not a Sheep is probably wrong to think the BBC angle in that particular piece assists Labour. Nope.

Anonymous said...

Is Cameron's vote on 22 weeks and fathers another example of "Thatcherite creep" (pun intended) whereby the Tories economic and social policies are heading rapidly to the right now that they sense victory?

haddock said...

"the only winner to emerge from last night was Parliament".... the parliament elected there to carry out the wishes of the public ? Most of our 'caring' MPs couldn't even be bothered to move their overfed arses into the chamber to listen to the debate but turned up just to vote.
When MPs are given a secret ballot on these matters we might see a completely different result..... no whip !... what b******s, it's the Labour party we are talking about !

Anonymous said...

Has any one noticed the logical inconsistancy of abortion and legal feotal rights when it applies to seeking damages for injuries suffered in utero.

norman said...

This is pro-life against no-life debate. All starts with a rational argument until the ghost of religion starts butting into the argument. In my opinion, those of us who are men should voice an opinion and leave the rest to women. It is women's issue, and they should sort it out.
While I was in America, I was sick and tired of male religious nutters in the Bible belt and men in robes constantly bullying women about the abortion issue. I saw the disgusting spectacle of crowds of men preventing women from going into abortion clinics. These women were often man-handled. I am a parent who is in wonderment of lives of all sorts not only of homosapiens. But would happily leave the choice to women.

Newmania said...

I was disappointed about this Iain and it seems to me we have to lose this entirely spurious viability factor.I have two new-borns at home at the moment and it is entirely clear their viability is about 5 minutes without 24 hour attention.

I say that 12 weeks is long enough , murder trumps inconvenience and with Doctors increasingly unwilling to dismember unborn babies parliament seems to me to be out of step with moderate public opinion.We also have to separate this debate from "Women’s rights " These are not in question but murder is not anyone’s right .It is the nature of the act that is the issue and it is not "progressive" to take one view or another.

It is unhelpful that these matters get caught up in so many other ancillary political currents . Overall I thought it was probably a good thing that both Lesbian parents had a legal status but many of the people lobbying for Lesbian rights are so obnoxious it is highly tempting to dig your heels in. Again the rights are misunderstood , it is the rightness of subjecting children to a social experiment made possible by technology that is the issue not picking on Lesbians who , left to their own devices would clearly have no children to worry about .

Not pleased ,and this is going nowhere , not because of Tories but because of the growing concerns of ordinary people

Tom Harris MP said...

Anonymous said: "Does anyone know why Mr Speaker's chair was empty for the debate?" (10.41am)

Because this was a debate during the committee stage of the Bill, the House was meeting as a committee, so the person chairing the debate (never the Speaker, sometimes the deputy speaker or another senior MP)sits on one of the chairs in front of the Speaker's chair, next to the clerks.

StBob said...

Newmania said
"but many of the people lobbying for Lesbian rights are so obnoxious it is highly tempting to dig your heels in. "

change "Lesbian rights" to "reduction from 24 weeks" and you'll see why the majority of MPs did indeed dig their heels in.

Anonymous said...

Periodic debate and review is one thing. But, I would like to think that the outcome of this vote signals resistance to the possibility - and I suspect desire from the extremist fringe – of this becoming a heated and emotional issue, US style.

Little Black Sambo said...

Stbob: "I would say a triumph for New Labour wouldnt you?"
Perhaps so, but why? What was there to "win" here? Why should New Labour (or any other party) have a partisan interest (if they did) in the outcome?

Anonymous said...

For those who denigrate Nadine Dorries - have you read why she fights for a reduction in time?
Read her account of watching a struggling aborted baby left on a slab trying to breath and perhaps you might get some inkling on why she feels so strongly.

People weep over new born babies struggling to live, babies in Burma, China, every poor country in the world - but no compassion on the inconvenient baby left to die without love or help.

Anonymous said...

stbob

oh dear, get out of bed the wrong side?

I merely wished to point out the complete illogicality of the whole thing.

and by the way, I am female, with children and grandchildren and fully aware of the things one gives up to have such.

I have spent a lifetime with damaged people of one sort or another so please don't lecture me on being dogmatic - I accept everyone as they are whether they have had abortions or not thery are all in need of understanding -
I do not judge but that does not prevent me seeing right and wrong and fuzzy logic!

Alice Dale said...

The focus should be reducing the number of abortions long before 24 weeks because those are the ones that are due to bad sexual practice and a lack of education. The reason why the number of abortions is so low between 20 and 24 weeks (1.45% of the total) is because of the reasons why it has taken a woman so long to come to terms with her preganancy (if the abortion is not for medical reasons, which, as I understand it, would still have been allowed.)

You should look at some of the stories coming from the British Preganancy Advice Service: women who have abortions at this late stage are generally because they have been in denial, possibly because the coneption was so traumatic. Violent abuse from the father-to-be, rape and incest provide such examples.

Confused of S. Yorks said...

Newmania writes:

"I was disappointed about this Iain and it seems to me we have to lose this entirely spurious viability factor."

And replace it with what, some spurious "it feels right" factor or "my God says" factor?

It seems to me that if you consider the viability criteria to be spurious, and you don't want the limit to be based on any spurious factors then you've presented yourself with an almost insurmountable object. What is a non-spurious factor?

"I have two new-borns at home at the moment and it is entirely clear their viability is about 5 minutes without 24 hour attention."

So they're being fed intravenously, in an oxygen rich atmsophere, etc, etc? Nope, thought not. And if their viability was 5 minutes, then how on Earth do you managed to go to the toilet? Do you take them with you; do you and your partner have some form of 24 hour shift whereby the bairns are never left unattended for more than a couple of minutes? Do they never sleep? See, typical emotive talk. Both of my children were 100% reliant on myself and my wife when they were younger, but their viability was never such that they required constant attention. At night they'd sleep for about 4 hours between feeds at first, but your's would obviously be dead in that time.

"I say that 12 weeks is long enough , murder trumps inconvenience"

Woa! There goes the emotive use of murder. Why 12 weeks? Why not 11, or 9 or, what the heck why not ban it altogether. What is the rational basis for your decision that up to 12 weeks isn't murder, but from day 84 on it is?

Can we assume that you're a strict vegan, because if aborting a 12 week foetus is murder, then killing animals (which are far more sentient than a 12 week foetus) must also be murder. Or is the difference just that - with a fair wind and a lot of good luck - that foetus just might be born and go on to live a happy and fulfilling life, or be miscarried, die in childbirth, die from illness in the first weeks after being born, etc.

In which case, if it is the potential that makes aborting a 12 week foetus murder, then you'd better be honest and outlaw abortion altogether.

"picking on Lesbians who , left to their own devices would clearly have no children to worry about ."

Ha ha ha. Strangely enough, I have a couple of lesbian friends who have 2 children, both conceived in the natural way, courtesy of friction between mucus mebranes and the combination, in utero of sperm and ovum.

Cinnamon said...

Have you guys considered campaigning for a male pill?

I know, it's not really on topic, but, a reliable contraceptive that doesn't cramp men's style like the snip or condoms, would go a long long long way towards cutting down on accidental pregnancies.

On a sidenote, when I see the government not serially messing up children in their care, with most of them ending up in prostitution and other crimes, then I'll start to take the moral stuff about abortion serious. Because right now, government (and the opposition) don't give a fig about the already living...

As for adoption only cute babies are wanted(stolen by SS or otherwise), not the older and already messed up kids... not to mention the zilch chances of adoptive parents for abandoned disabled kids either. It's pretty grim already as is without adding yet more victims :(

As for the moral warriors, well, none of them actually has adopted an such an unwanted child... when they do, that is when I start to believe their sincerity, not a moment earlier.

Wallenstein said...

Anonymous - 1.26pm

No-one doubts Nadine's passion, but that doesn't excuse the lies and distortions promulgated throughout her campaign.

It's possible to be both passionate and even-handed, without resorting to such rancid tactics.

Confused of S. Yorks said...

Anonymous said:

"For those who denigrate Nadine Dorries - have you read why she fights for a reduction in time?
Read her account of watching a struggling aborted baby left on a slab trying to breath and perhaps you might get some inkling on why she feels so strongly."

Oh yes, I reckon damn near everyone who's taken an interest in the debate has read/heard that story. After all she never missed an opportunity to beat people around the heart with it.

But is it true or is it, like so many elements of her "case", lacking in veracity?

Apparently it happened when she was a student nurse many years ago (how many is debatable, Nadine's been known to be less than honest about her age), though when I told my sister (of a similar age to Nads) who trained at Barts more than 20 years ago, she expressed scepticism.

Nadine did herself no favours by misquoting and misrepresenting facts, pulling statistics out of thin air and ramming the "Hand of Hope" down our throats. Why should we believe this. We have no supporting evidence, just her word for it. Hardly a sound basis for a position in a reasoned debate.

You want to be swayed by emotive stories, go right ahead. I expect a higher standard from our elected representatives. Last night, thank you, we got just that.

JCB said...

Iain, you were saying earlier that there have been cases of a foetus surviving at 20 weeks. I realise that you may have been quoting Nadine Dorries (always a risky thing to do) but could you direct me to a reliable source for that information?

pete.some.ox said...

Just because free votes have the word 'free' in them doesn't mean they're good for democracy. If you look at the votes, you'll see divisions along party lines, Labour against restrictions, Tories in favour. The free vote simply takes the issue off the political agenda. No one can be held accountable for these decisions, and they won't feature in any party manifestos. It's simply a way of the government and the opposition to endorse a position without risking splits or being held responsible for it. And the idea that because an issue is particularly emotive it should be considered an 'issue of conscience' where equally morally salient decisions - like the vote to go to war in Iraq - are not is ludicrous. Free votes are good for Parliament perhaps, but bad for politics. Whip every vote and hold politicians responsible for the outcomes.

Anonymous said...

great result, and seeing some of the comments from "pro life" nutcases in this thread makes me doubly delighted .I'm assuming the excellent channel 4 Dispatches programme showing the UK fundamentalist Christian movement played its part in showing MPs what a bunch of fruit loops these people are.Don't give an inch....

verity said...

Confused of S Yorks - yhou speak with a palpable sneer about "the god factor" of others. I have mentioned twice on this thread that I do not want rules and laws made by militant atheists who are driven more by a hunger to destroy the faith of others (not possible, by the way) than to elevate the argument. You people seem to be driven by hatred and anger and rules made by such minds are bound to be destructive.

Any religion, which acknowledges the human spirit, is preferable to the bleak landscape of despair that is militant atheism.

Adrian said...

Although I support the right to abortion, I still dislike abortion intensely, so I hope that the limit will come down to 20 weeks soon. For this to happen though, the "pro-life" movement would have to join the 20-week campaign, instead of alienating possible supporters.

Anonymous said...

"I have mentioned twice on this thread that I do not want rules and laws made by militant atheists who are driven more by a hunger to destroy the faith of others"

yes, Verity, but why should anyone care what you want?

alberich said...

Rush-is-right @8.25.

Thank you for what without doubt will be the funniest comment I shall read in the blogosphere this year. Absolutely priceless. "In this manner" indeed! While, by contrast, children killed by a peremptory smack over the head with a chip pan are predominantly little conserva-tives.

stbob said...

Verity,
Hate? I doubt it. You are probably the person who most frequently expresses hate for other people's political beliefs on this website. You have said at various times that you hate socialists, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Muslims. Need I go on?

When you can't win an argument you regularly belittle people on the basis of their grammar, spelling or unfounded presumptions of their political and personal beliefs. You are full of hate baby.

stbob said...

litle black sambo,
it was a "win" for the Labour Party because (let me reiterate) it was a complex and controversial set of bills which had been advertised well in advance as part of their legislative program. The bills themselves were designed to bring certainty to a number of outstanding issues. MPs were allowed a free vote and the ensuing and highly charged debate was widely reported and debated in the print, online, radio and tv media. I have to say I thought the debate mostly intelligent and personally, for what its worth, I changed my opinion on the reduction of the abortion limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks to keeping the status quo. I am also pleased that the "Frankenstein embryos" line of the Catholic Church was seen for what it is and rejected by the majority of MPs.

At the end of the day Labour's legislative program was passed without amendment. In the current political climate that was a triumph.

I appreciate that if one disagreed with one or more of the pieces of legislation then it may appear less so. I even stayed up late watching the nether regions of digital tv (yes BBC Parliament is there beyond Ceebies) and was fascinated by the division process.

And if the abortion limit debate comes up again regularly then great, bring it on, as it reminds us that we are all responsible for the decisions made by the parliament we elect.

Anonymous said...

alice dale, thanks for reminding us of the truth in this so-called debate. Very few women abort after 20 weeks for trivial reasons and when they do it is for reasons that would, I suspect, confound the clear cut moral arguments usually presented.

Neville said...

http://armchairnews.co.uk/2008/05/19/womens-bodies-become-a-political-football/

Confused of S. Yorks said...

Verity said "Confused of S Yorks - yhou speak with a palpable sneer about 'the god factor' of others."

No, I just pointed out that branding viability as spurious was not particularly constructive, as at least it provides a quantifiable and tangible line in the sand. And as for my "sneering" about the God factor of others, I reckon that is more a reflection on what you want to see, rather than what I meant.


"I have mentioned twice on this thread that I do not want rules and laws made by militant atheists who are driven more by a hunger to destroy the faith of others (not possible, by the way) than to elevate the argument."

So, without ever having met me, or discussed religion with me, you're going to brand me a "militant atheist" on the basis of one word in a post. You useless prat! You don't know me at all, so I'll excuse your pig ignorance, but "militant atheist" or even "atheist" are so far from the truth as to make your accusation pathetically laughable.

"You people seem to be driven by hatred and anger and rules made by such minds are bound to be destructive."

That's just about typical of your commenting style, isn't it Verity. All sweeping generalisations and unfounded accusations.

In taking a position on this matter, I weighed a number of factors both rational and religious. And came to a position that reconciled both. Dogmatic adherence to blind faith is not something my God either demands or desires.

To be honest, I wouldn't have bothered reply to such a tiresome comment, but I'm feeling charitable. Now sod off and contemplate Luke 6:41 or 1 Peter 2:15.

Angela said...

To my mind, the only thing last night's abortion vote did was emphasise the contempt of Parliament for the electorate. Poll after poll has shown that majority opinion, especially among women, favours a lowering of the abortion limit. Members of Parliament are supposed to reflect the views of the constituents who voted them their seat. What a joke!

I don't have fixed views about it, I think it is far too complicated an issue to HAVE fixed views. However...

Nadine Dorries muddied her own waters with plenty of false claims in pursuit of her goal. That does not necessarily make the goal unworthy, but it makes her lack credibility.

The 'other side' was equally culpable, loading evidence & statistics in its favour and ignoring valid arguments in opposition. Dawn Primarolo is enough to make anyone puke.

I am against capital punishment because however much I may support it in theory, I know I could not in cold blood take the life of a fellow human being, and I don't have the right to delegate that responsibility.

Every MP who voted to retain 24 weeks should have been compelled to witness, in person, an abortion at that stage before voting for it. It is no coincidence that most NHS doctors won't do it and late abortions have to be contracted out to those for whom payment is the priority.

I am disgusted by our 'representatives' in Parliament on a daily basis, but yesterday will take quite some beating.

Anonymous said...

confused:

Maybe there are many things Nadine says that are not factual -but then she is a politician, very few of whom are truthful. However this dies not discredit everything she says - one does not take the word of one person in making up ones mind about important issues . Many of us know people whom we trust who have reports to make.

Why, when one disagrees about such things do we have to be branded 'religious'. It may come as a surprise but not all religious people are meekly obedient to the doctrine of their faith and not all people who have a reverence for life and ethical opinions are of a religious faith.

Typical of this government which is always saying that the public needs 'educating'.

Some of us are a damn sight more educated that some parliamenatrians, some of us were taught how to look at all points of view before making a decision.

Some of us were taught to think for ourselves especially on such issues as ethics and morals.

I recommend the Philosophers Magazine -that demonstrates how to work through logically to a point of view.

By the way I attended a Secondary Modern and am very working class if you wish to judge on such stupid standards)

verity said...

4:47 - Me as an individual? But hundreds of thousands, if not millions, who feel like me should carry a little weight, I believe. even in your parallel, hate-driven universe.

St Bob, baby, the people for whom I express intense dislike, and you have just joined the portfolio, are all socialists. You write: "Need I go on?" Yes. You left out Tony Blair. Hatred of destructive left wingers/socialists/Trots/One Worlders and their grim ilk is more common than you appear to imagine, especially on conservtive and right wing sites, and many of us see the destruction of the left as a duty.

You must admit I am very mild compared with Devil's Kitchen or the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler.

"When you can't win an argument you regularly belittle people ...". I can always win an argument. This has nothing to do with getting fed up with people who race into a site having nothing to say, and say it badly.

The left always attempts to deride those who see through them. It's OK. You're transparent, baby.

Confused of S. Yorks said...

Anon 7:45pm

"Maybe there are many things Nadine says that are not factual -but then she is a politician, very few of whom are truthful. However this dies not discredit everything she says - one does not take the word of one person in making up ones mind about important issues"

Two points to make regarding your comment. First, check out Aesop's "The Shepherd and the Wolf". Secondly, Dorries approach was symptomatic of many campaigning from the same position. It did their arguments no good, when a bit less reliance on emotion might well have swung the day.

stbob said...

Verity,
really you hate me? You know I once had a very young female friend who thought she might be pregnant and her hideous ex-boyriend asked her to have an abortion if she was. She didnt want to and I offered to support her financially whatever she wanted to do.

I dont believe in God but I do believe in people. The two things arent incompatible are they?

Anonymous said...

Verity - I am off to Ypres next week to pay my respects to my uncles who died there.

Care to join me baby? No I think not.

verity said...

9:29 - I have absolutely no idea what you were trying to convey or what bone you are trying to pick, and no, I wouldn't care to join you in a lifeboat.

But have great respect for the people who died at Ypres and elsewhere on the Continent defending our island and feel they have been betrayed by the destructors within: the socialists and One Worlders.

They live on, insulated by death and honour, as Britain today sinks knee-deep in slags, serial "partners", floods of alien "immigrants" living off the taxpayer according to their own laws, with their own parallel courts, and foreign rapists and murderers the government declines to deport, hiding behind Cherie Blair's monstrous "Human Rights Act". The rights they gave their lives to protect are being picked off one by one by our own government, which adheres to the cult of One Worlder socialism.

Little Black Sambo said...

StBob
My point, perhaps not clearly expressed was that I am mystified that time limits for abortions should be a matter for party politics. Why should the government want a later date? Why not leave it to a genuinely free and unsupervised vote? There is absolutely no need to introduce notions of winning and losing here. The important thing surely is to make the best decision and one that will fairly reflect public opinion.

Confused of S. Yorks said...

Anon 7:45pm

"By the way I attended a Secondary Modern and am very working class if you wish to judge on such stupid standards"

Oh great, where did I even mention working class or educational background? I didn't did I? So don't even bother to try and justify a pointless misdirection. In this respect you're as bad as Verity, flinging an accusation based on ignorance. In fact, your comment is possibly worse, given that she at least had "God factor" to use as a tenuous fact.

For what it's worth, I went to the local comprehensive, followed by tech college and then polytechnic. And as for class, without knowing my background, don't even think about following that one up. Go right ahead though, I doubt you have a chip on your shoulder (that would be so stereotypical), but comments like that could give such an impression.

verity said...

Confused of S Yorks writes, to my amazement: In this respect you're as bad as Verity, flinging an accusation based on ignorance. In fact, your comment is possibly worse, given that she at least had "God factor" to use as a tenuous fact.

What "God factor" [capitalisation yours]? Where on earth did you get that from, other than that you don't bother to read other people's posts before steaming in with your own important contribution?

S Yorks, you sound a little daft on your own account.

I wrote that I loathe militant atheism because it seeks viciously to destroy the faith of others. It's nasty, aggressive and destructive.

How do you relate "the God factor" to me? You know nothing about me. You know that I strongly disapprove of fundamentalist atheism. I don't like bullies. That is all you know.

Do not ascribe imagined thoughts to me, there's a good chap.

Anonymous said...

All four votes demonstrate, again, that MPs are mostly a bunch of out-of-touch deviant weirdos.


Angela said...

"Dawn Primarolo is enough to make anyone puke."

You got that right.

Anonymous said...

confused of W.Yorks

Oh dear, Oh dear,

actually I possibly got a bit off beam with the last remark but had just watched some news programme re election...and was feeling furious

having been born on the other side of the green beize door I have experienced the very good in everyone of all backgrounds and some considerable bad -

I do,. however, get very cross about modern education -children leaving school unable to read and write get me very angry and logic should be taught in schools it is markedly absent in this debate.

However, as you rightly point out this has nothing to do with the present question so I apologise.

I still however, think that killing healthy babies is wrong and the mothers suffer in later life.

Confused of S. Yorks said...

Verity

"What "God factor" [capitalisation yours]? Where on earth did you get that from, other than that you don't bother to read other people's posts before steaming in with your own important contribution?"

Okay, let's spell it out. I made a comment (May 21, 2008 1:41 PM) which contained the phrase "'my God says' factor". You responded to that comment, accusing me of being a militant atheist, said accusation being based (unless you'd care to enlighten me) on my inclusion of that phrase. Or perhaps my support for reasoned debate.

I then made reference to your comment attacking me from your position of ignorance in a comment (May 21, 2008 11:43 PM) responding to Anon's comment of (May 21, 2008 7:45 PM) in which he decided to bring class and education in to the discussion from a position of ignorance, again like yourself. I pointed out that at least you had my use of "God factor" upon which to hang an unfounded accusation.

So, "S Yorks, you sound a little daft on your own account.", whereas your demonstrable failure to follow the comment thread is either a consequence of your own rash stupidity or being caught out by comments being moderated in blocks. Your choice.

"You know nothing about me. You know that I strongly disapprove of fundamentalist atheism. I don't like bullies. That is all you know.

Do not ascribe imagined thoughts to me, there's a good chap."

Pot, meet Kettle.

Confused of S. Yorks said...

Anon May 22, 2008 9:41 AM

Apology accepted.

"I still however, think that killing healthy babies is wrong and the mothers suffer in later life."

That's the sticking point, isn't it? You say baby, I say foetus, and then there's the viability issue and at what point does abortion become murder. The latter could result in a reducto ad absurdo situation whereby we end up with abstinence as the only acceptable form of birth control. But it does highlight one of the many problems with deciding what is and isn't legal.

In an ideal world, there would be no need for abortion. Unfortunately we don't live in such a world and thus the messy compromises on matters such as this. Personally, I'm all for regular reviews of the law, better education and more widespread and informed debate.

scarborough surfer said...

S Yorks @10.11 - I returned only to check whether you had done the necessary, which you have, and very professionally too if I may say so. We, not to say she, could do with a bit more of this sort of Yorkshire grit.

Newmania said...

Confused writes:

"I was disappointed about this Iain and it seems to me we have to lose this entirely spurious viability factor."And replace it with what, some spurious "it feels right" factor or "my God says" factor?

You may feel moral and metaphysical systems of belief are trivial feelings such as might prompt you to buy another big book of why wimmin are best at everything , but they grow through time and form the basis of all important decisions . When you are fertilising your garden with your dead parents in a logical way you might ponder on this . Its so rational .

you've presented yourself with an almost insurmountable object. What is a non-spurious factor?

Even if I accepted this , which I do not , it would still be an advance on a false framework which places the ability of the child to live unaided at the centre of the debate . Why not slaughter the crippled ? Without some notion of the special value of people aside from their attributes at this or that time horrific conclusions follow that you avoid thinking about because you like your nice comfy constituency of “scientists” who , amazingly , think science can and will supply an answer unaided.

"I have two new-borns at home at the moment and it is entirely clear their viability is about 5 minutes without 24 hour attention."

So they're being fed intravenously, in an oxygen rich atmsophere, etc, etc? Nope, thought not. And if their viability was 5 minutes, then how on Earth do you managed to go to the toilet?


How fatuous .Well going to the toilet is not easy since you mention it but their ability to live without me is zero. Clear enough .You are not thinking you are just desperately defending what you know is a weak position about to give way





"I say that 12 weeks is long enough , murder trumps inconvenience"

Woa! There goes the emotive use of murder. Why 12 weeks? Why not 11, or 9 or, what the heck why not ban it altogether. What is the rational basis for your decision that up to 12 weeks isn't murder, but from day 84 on it is?


I can`t say I much like using the word murder but if you are killing a person I `m not sure what other word there is . If you prefer something like de –living , or un existing , or anti – lifing I would be happy to comply with the New Labour book of ok words

Can we assume that you're a strict vegan, because if aborting a 12 week foetus is murder, then killing animals (which are far more sentient than a 12 week foetus) must also be murder.

See murder-of-cripples and who decided that sentience was the issue , I am not sentient when I am asleep , I have the potential of sentience as does an unborn child . You obviously see humans and animals as on the same spectrum in which case if you are not a vegan then I must assume an especially stupid one might not actually be eaten burnt , experimented on and so on but would certainly qualify for far less respect and might be asked to pull a plough or chase foxes .Its not as if this has never happened


Or is the difference just that - with a fair wind and a lot of good luck - that foetus just might be born and go on to live a happy and fulfilling life, or be miscarried, die in childbirth, die from illness in the first weeks after being born, etc.
In which case, if it is the potential that makes aborting a 12 week foetus murder, then you'd better be honest and outlaw abortion altogether.


You would like that wouldn’t you. Anyone who finds the prospect of unborn children being chopped up for the convenience of some woman must want to bann abortion altogether. Nothing of the sort, there are two irreconcilable principles here. A womans right to her body and a child’s right to life . Unlike you , I do not expect to live forever and I accept that death is part of life ,including for the unborn. It is always to be regretted but it will,never be neat and tidy.
My view is this. The foetus gather value as it grows from valueless cells into a person. When this happens is not amenable to scientific enquiry and the competing rights of the woman must also be respected . You are looking for an easy solution but there is none. You pick viability arbitrarily only because it suits a political agenda that comes from feminism’s history and understandable abhorrence of being in thrall to child birth( a historic argument ). The only possible approach is pragmatic .

1 Any abortion is a tragedy
2 The earlier the better if it must happen
3 A suitable date would be one by which the woman has time to know she is pregnant and decide whether she wishes to have the child . Let us say , and there is no right date , 3 months .



True it would be better if it were earlier , and true it is not “right” but I neither seek nor expect the sort of trite satisfaction you have gathered based on nothing whatsoever .







Ha ha ha. Strangely enough, I have a couple of lesbian friends who have 2 children, both conceived in the natural way, courtesy of friction between mucus mebranes and the combination, in utero of sperm and ovum.

If you are suggesting women can conceive without sperm then you are crackers. If not then you are saying nothing at all incomprehensibly . Bravo

Confused of S. Yorks said...

Thank you Newmania for making your point perfectly clear. Oh, and sorry for taking the piss, but I really couldn't resist.

Anyway, if I can summarise, you don't know of a "right date", can't provide any criteria that would rigourously define a "right date" and therefore rely on what you feel is right.

Nothing wrong with that at all. In fact an admirably open and honest position. There is no "right date" or "wrong date" that could be defined in such a way as to be acceptable to all sides in the debate.

The problem is that in the abortion debate there is an attempt to quantize a continuum, to place boundaries upon a continuous spectrum of foetal development, one that theoretically extends from the moment of fertilisation (if not earlier cf Catholic proscription on contraception) through to death (whenever it occurs).

So, before we can even start arguing about arbitrary time limits how about a debate on how we as a society are going to define such a time limit? And clarity about the foundations of our position? Then we could maybe come up with some compromise that respects the rights of everyone involved whilst acknowledging that the solution is a compromise that should be reviewed on a regular (but not too frequent) basis. I'm not optomistic, but all that's been achieved so far is maintenance of the status quo and a polarisation of the debate. Hardly conducive to finding common ground.

"If you are suggesting women can conceive without sperm then you are crackers."

Wasn't saying that all all.

"If not then you are saying nothing at all incomprehensibly "

Was simply pointing out that some lesbian friends of mine had conceived a child through the act of sexual intercourse. No need for IVF or other artifical methods.

verity said...

1. Fundamentalist atheists must stop making assumptions about me and ascribing to me a belief in a god, which they could not possibly know. All they know is that I defend people of faith - all faiths - people who know they have a soul - against vicious, militant atheists who seek to destroy faith. I wonder why. It seems an odd psychopathy, but then I suppose all psychopathies are strange.

They cannot destroy faith, of course, which infuriates them even more. Something outside their control! I have nothing against normal atheists - that is, atheists on the right - who do not seek to destroy the faith of others. (Not they can; they cannot compete with a diety.) It is the fundamentalists on the left who seek to destroy. Always, when you see destruction of human values, it is the left, busy at work. They naively use dismissive phrases like "sky fairy", I suppose in the belief that a person of faith is going to think, "Gosh! I'd never thought of it quite like that before! I'm not going to believe in God any more! Thank you, militant atheist!" You people need to shut up and stop making absolute fools of yourselves.

Make no assumptions about my faith or non-faith from the above.

2. Hold your noses and go over to The Daily Mail and read the story of the lady who couldn't have children, finally conceived through IVF and then the pregnancy went wrong just under the [whatever the time limit is]. How she and her husband lied to the doctors about when the baby was conceived, how the baby started coming way early and the mother caught an infection, and they didn't tell the doctor because they knew the doctors would abort it.

So she lay in her hospital bed for days with a raging, painful infection but she was determined that this little thing wasn't going to be killed.

Well it was born in a very difficult birth, and was so premature it was transparent, but the doctors thought it was over the time barrier, so worked flat out to save it rather than letting it die.

Just go and look at its tiny little feet between the surgeon's fingers. It's little feet aren't even as big as a surgeon's fingernail, but today, it is home and thriving.

Read the whole saga. Your eyes will tear up, I guarantee. Brave lady, and her husband lied valiantly to the medical staff.

Anonymous said...

verity said...
"All they know is that I defend people of faith - all faiths ..."

Even Moslems?

verity said...

3:56 - I said "all faiths". Moslems who try to live according to the code their diety set out for them are equally worthy of respect.

There is a terrible problem with militant Islam and that is why this religion needs a Reformation. There are people working on this. But those who live by their faith in peace - yes, of course. To try to persuade them that Allah doesn't exist is, in any case, as future as telling Christians and Jews that they are being fanciful by praying to entities they have never seen.

Trying to destroy the faith of others is malevolent and is practised only by fundamentalist atheists, and fundamentalist atheists are always socialists. And socialists are always destructive and controlling. Any target of established human practice will do for tearing down and trying to destabilise society.

alberich said...

"fundamentalist atheists are always socialists"

Counterexample: Ayn Rand.

Whose kid sister you resemble in most material respects.

verity said...

Alberich - I haven't read enough Ayn Rand to challenge you, but can I ask, was she not just an atheist, but not a militant, crusading (sic) atheist who wanted to tear down the beliefs of others?

Newmania said...

Anyway, if I can summarise, you don't know of a "right date", can't provide any criteria that would rigourously define a "right date" and therefore rely on what you feel is right.Nothing wrong with that at all. In fact an admirably open and honest position. There is no "right date" or "wrong date" that could be defined in such a way as to be acceptable to all sides in the debate.

You have reiterated your error. Moral sense is not the same as “feeling” . Feelings might be trivial or selfish For example the vanity or pride of someone who feel their special expertises being questioned hmmm.
Do you sneer loyalty or a sense of right and wrong or indeed love ?.If you deny any moral instinct springing from the human then humanist through has no basis whatsoever . I might commend my soul to the almighty but you must value feelings .( See Feuerbach for example on humanism). Do you think civilisation is only better gadgets ?
Science is incidental , debate is a tactic , Parliament is in touch only with the heartless selfishness of the progressive 60s and 70s , and we are entering a far more nuanced time than the old stand off between Feminazis and the Church .
Well I do not have the time to unconfuse confused but on the rapprochement between feeling and intelligence you might do well to read more metaphysical Poets and less books about female empowerment .

My gift

Speaking of Intelligence and Instinct coming together ,Verity is always such a shaft of light .There is sense in which fundamentalist atheists are all socialists …I would spend long boring paragraphs teasing that out but I know immediately and exactly what she means . I am also fascinated by her ‘apparently’ faithless defence of faith.

Anyway I would not want Verity to think that her contributions are not appreciated. They are .

Confused of S. Yorks said...

Newmania, without any sense of irony, you are beyond belief and I will pray for you.

verity said...

Newmania - Thank you.

You write: "I am also fascinated by her ‘apparently’ faithless defence of faith." Whether or not I have a faith isn't germane. I acknowledge the spiritual dimension in every human being, as most human beings do. (For the anoraks, look it up yourselves.) Most of the world professes a faith, which means that most human beings believe they have a spiritual dimension that transcends their body and their mind. It is this insubstantial yet indominitable element that the socialists, recognising its value and permanence, seek to destroy. Because they cannot control it.