Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Victory for Dorries & Field Over Abortion Debate

In one of the more unlikely parliamentary alliances, Nadine Dorries and Frank Field seem to have scored a remarkable victory over the pro abortion lobby now that the government is refusing to allow the liberalisation of the abortion laws to be discussed when the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Bill returns to the Commons tomorrow. And in one of the most deeply ironic acts by a Government Minister it will be the champion of abortion herself, Harriet Harman, who is having to explain that all discussion of the subject is being dropped tomorrow - and as Leader of the House it will be her that has to table the motion. Polly has gone ape leading Nadine to write on her blog...
Forgive me, but Polly Toynbee is ranting about me in today's Guardian and that does make me feel just a little smug. I don’t even mind that she is misrepresenting my position. The fact that Polly Toynbee hates me is a badge of honour, and one I will wear with a smile, and a degree of pride all day long.
There is little doubt in my mind that the pro abortion lobby would have won significant victories if they had been allowed to table amendments tomorrow. This could have led to the number of doctors needed to authorise abortions reduced to one, an increase in the upper age limit and much worse besides.

But the fact that both Nadine Dorries and Frank Field had managed to marshall a significant alliance of the media to their cause has made the government think twice about allowing this issue to deflect from the economic crisis. The Mail had always been in favour of a lower term limit, but in the last few days the News of the World and Telegraph backed the Dorries/Field initative for a balanced Joint Parliamentary Committee to review the law. Even The Observer on Sunday was balanced in its coverage.

Number Ten wisely intervened to stop any further discussion because they realise that although there might be parliamentary support for further liberalisation of the abortion law, there is very little support among either the general public or the media. They decided not to pick a fight where none were needed. Brown knows it played badly in recent by elections and doesn't relish it rearing its head again in the last stages of the Glenrothes campaign.

Harriet Harman is said to be incandescent. Yet again, not only has Number 10 ignored her arguments, they have rubbed her nose in it by making her defend the volte face.

There can surely be little doubt that this is a victory for Nadine and a real demonstration that hard work and tenacity always pays off in political campaigning. She may not have achieved a reduction in the 24 week term limit but the balance has now firmly tipped from the pro choice agenda towards a more sensible middle way discussion.


Anonymous said...

If the only way you can win the debate is to avoid having the debate at all, I would hardly call that victory.

C'mon Nadine/Frank, surely you should be welcoming the debate.

Anonymous said...

As a Conservative activist, I'm impressed with Nadine's tenacity.

I'm also gutted that it's in favour of such a wrong-headed, harmful policies. Since when did Conservatives oppose choice and letting doctors use their best judgment without being second guessed? I understand this is a sensitive issue but these decisions often affect people in desperately vulnerable, volatile situations and I think these *choices* should be taken on the ground, not arbitrarily fenced off by government according to a survey of how their "conscience" feels on the day and what seems "sensible and middle-way."

Anonymous said...

i posted this on tom harris' page - he was being somewhat critical of nadine dorries so i felt putting a counter view was desirable and to his credit he did used it

1 legalised abortion was we were told, never to be ‘on demand’ but for only clearly defined medical reasons - physical and mental.
in practice abortion is available on demand and has become another birth control option as it did in the late unlamented soviet union.

2 a 21 week foetus if delivered alive has to receive every medical attention to help it survive which is why it has to be killed in the womb prior to abortion.
if it were to be delivered alive then every effort must be made to keep it alive - in the womb it has no rights , out of the womb even with only a tenuous hold on life it is a human being with every right to life.

3 funny old thing ethics particularly when religion, politics, science and morality all get mixed up together

Anonymous said...

"as it did in the late unlamented soviet union."

That's the most bizzare non sequitor I've seen for a while.

Praguetory said...

When I saw Nadine at Birmingham at conference I congratulated her on paving the way for tightening the abortion laws when the Tories get back to power.

I didn't realise that she expected to achieve shorter term goals. Well done, Nadine.

Anonymous said...

Victory? I think they realised that their ammendments would never be passed and chickened out. Considering that this will be preventing women in Northern Ireland from having any sort of access to abortion then this is not a good thing. And if MPs had allowed the ammendment that removed the need to ask two doctors permission and instead just have one doctor sign off, then that would have gone some way to reducing the tiny amount of abortions (less than 2%) that happen after 20 weeks.

Stop being her mouthpiece - the BMA voted against reducing the limit for a reason.

The Secret Person said...

Is there not some suggestion that dropping the extension of abortion law to Northern Ireland was something that the DUP might have asked for in the 42 days debate?

Not that I am implying anything of course...

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Iain, but you are barking up the wrong tree here.

And Nadine is plain barking...

I thought you were a supporter of the 'Conservative and Unionist' Party ??

So why on earth do you support denying the women of Northern Ireland the legitimate choice which is available to the women of Great Britain ??

If Nadine does not like abortion, fine - she doesn't have to have one. If Frank Field doesn't use any contraception, that is his choice.

You may not like Polly Toynbee, but she is 'bang on the money' when she says :-

Today at 5.30pm outside the Commons they will be shouting the old cry: "Not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate."

What part of that cannot you agree with ?

Anonymous said...

“This could have led to the number of doctors needed to authorise abortions reduced to one, an increase in the upper age limit and much worse besides.”

Yeah because one doctor on their own are going to say “yeah get rid of the little sod” and are all secretly Shipman but two will keep an eye of each other to avoid that happening. Please if you can’t trust a single doctor to advise someone why is two so much better.

I would be interested to see how a Tory Government reacts to the issue of abortion – would Nadine push for a massive reduction in the abortion limit and would Cameron step up to back her on this as he backed what 22 weeks or 20 – keep forgetting?


Anonymous said...

Why would anyone wait so long till a baby is fully formed before deciding to kill it? If baby needs lots medical attention, why kill it? Are the disabled worth less than the rest of us? I think not. Well done, Nadine Dorries & Frank Field.

Anonymous said...

Pity. I have always favoured abortion up to 252 months. You can ususally tell whether they eill be socialists by the time they leave university.

Laurence Boyce said...

Why you cheer on these conservative Christians, Iain, is a greater mystery to me even than the Virgin Birth . . .

Andy said...

Bottle of Gin and a rusty coat hanger it is then!

Anonymous said...

david said@1.56 -are you suggesting that you lament the passing of the late soviet union ?

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Whether this bill was pulled or otherwise I think this debate is a fantastic victory in itself for Nadine and Frank, raising this contentious issue again and engaging public debate and media interest.

Choice and ignorance can not go hand in hand in this debate but unfortunately I think they do, the more it is discussed, the more I hope people will listen, learn and make informative opinions.

Well done Nadine and Frank and thank you for continuing to campaign, this is so important and whether the abortion limits are reduced or otherwise, we need people like you to educate the public

Obviously when I say ‘public’ I do not include the intelligent readers commenting below – most of them seem to have very rational and informed opinions :)

Fitaloon said...

5 days ago in the Mail they had this story about this.

According to the Mail Gordon Brown and Harriet Harman have had a big stushie over the relaxation of the abortion laws planned for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

The final line in the article is interesting it says It emerged yesterday that Mr Brown has responded to pressure from Ulster MPs by making it clear that the Government should not support moves to legalise abortion in the Province on the grounds that it would jeopardise the peace process.Now pardon me for being a bit suspicious but might this be part of the pay-off for the DUP supporting Gordon's 42 day Debacle?

Just a thought.

PM clashes with deputy Harman over plans to relax abortion laws Mail Online

Anonymous said...

Using the words pro-life and pro-choice in place of anti- or pro-abortion, to me appear good examples of the 'diversion of meaning' in political language that Orwell was always complaining about.

Anonymous said...

Think your usual rational intelligence deserts you on this issue - misplaced loyalty? And think the term should be pro choice, not pro abortion.

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine how exciting politics would be if there were 650MPs like Nadine and Frank?

Man in a Shed said...

Different Duncan said...

Happy to have the debate - in the next parliament ;-)

Anonymous said...

Nadine is sound is so much, and anyone who can get Polly so worked up is a force for good, but on this she is wrong.

It is utterly obscene, that a so-called progressive government, with the support of those religious fervour is maintaining an unjust position in North Ireland.

The Grant Maker said...

For the edification of readers, I reproduce my comment on St Polly's article. Bad form I know, but worth it I hope.

"You are dreadful. You rail against 'choice' insofar as it applies to the consumerism you hate so much, and yet you feel that the power over life and death is nothing but a "choice"?

You reduce babies to consumer articles - accessories which you might just want to acquire if your life is sufficiently comfortable and amenable, but which you must feel absolutely free to discard if they don't fit your job, lifestyle, Swedish maple floors and holidays in Tuscany.

"Progressive?" Sure we are. Bring me another Amaretto, and shut the blinds so we can't see the real world outside our trendy North London windows. Of course we care passionately about the vulnerable - so long as they contact us cellophane-wrapped with a direct debit form which we can complete with a fountain pen whilst we nurse a well-earned glass of chilled Chablis in the other hand.

The hypocracy is absolutely staggering. Ostensibly, you stand for a lot of the causes I do. In reality, you make me want to vomit."

David Lindsay said...

Field is rather more pro-life than Dorries, and increasingly so.

Diane Abbott had been heading up a band of hardline United Irelanders in all parties who want to extend to Northern Ireland the 1967 Abortion Act. Even Abbott's attitude to private schools and to all black boys except her own son pales when compared to this.

These people are vigorous supporters of the Good Friday Agreement as the means to a 32-county republic (although, like the abolition of Catholic schools and like many other things besides, abortion on demand will happen in the present Republic long before it commands any real support in Northern Ireland), and are opposed to their own parties' organisation in Northern Ireland, yet they seem to have become total integrationists on this one issue alone.

Perhaps even more significantly, they have suddenly become fans of the 1967 Abortion Act. Whisper it not, but surely that can only mean that that Act already provides for abortion absolutely on demand, up to and including partial birth?

As I say, whisper it not.

Anonymous said...

Still don't understand your position in this, Iain. It seems dangerously close to "I support individual choice, as long as I like what the individuals choose to do."

No one is saying that you - or Nadine for that matter - have to grin and like the fact that people have abortions. And the first poster is right - since when was running away from a debate a 'victory'?

Blogger Andy said...

Bottle of Gin and a rusty coat hanger it is then!

how true and how sad. How stupid that the anti-choice lobby* still fail to realise that the decision is not "do we have abortions or do we not?" but "do we have legal or illegal abortions?" and has been since time immemorial.

*p***y, but deliberately so.

Anonymous said...

You reduce babies to consumer articles - accessories which you might just want to acquire if your life is sufficiently comfortable and amenable, but which you must feel absolutely free to discard if they don't fit your job, lifestyle, Swedish maple floors and holidays in Tuscany.

And what's wrong with that?? Seriously, a wanted, planned baby. Is that not something to strive for?

The Grant Maker said...

Anonymous - it's not the "wanted, planned" bit I have the issue with - it's the "discard if inconvenient". I'd have thought that was obvious.

Anonymous said...

I have an opinion on this matter, but I don't think it's important.
I am sick to the back teeth of this talk of smoke and mirrors and all the obfuscation and lies promoted by both sides of the argument.

Yes, Polly Toynbee being ridiculous, but Nadine Dorries is being just as mendacious and partial in her argument.
How can anyone hope to have a reasoned debate on this when everyone is so willing to slag each other off and lie. Can't somebody bring a fact into this debate?

Writing as a 20 year old I'm glad there won't be debate on this. Perhaps it'll give the parties involved a chance to grow up.

Anonymous said...

Oh hip hip hooray that debate in the Commons over the liberalisation of abortion and its extension throughout the UNITED Kingdom has been stifled. It seems the Government have shelved it not because of the lovely Nad but because Gordon doesn't want to alienate the Catholic vote in Glenrothes.

Boo for the Government and boo for Dorries and Field.

Anonymous said...

Hooray for Dorries and Field.

Whilst I agree with your celebration of the outcome Iain, I think your reading of the situation is probably wrong. I suspect the debate has been pulled for 2 reasons - (1) liberalising amendments were likely to be lost (2) government support would have had a detrimental effect on the Glenrothes votes.

Thankfully, NI will be spared the imposition of this shameful legislation against the majority of the populations express wishes.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

James, (9.55) has a point, but cold objectivity does tend to go out of the window when human life is at stake, perhaps, as he suggests, at the very moment when objectivity is needed.

Perhaps he, and others, should ask why a party that has been so vociferous and hysterical about protecting the "rights" of a countryside menace - the fox - clams up big time when the rights of an unborn human are at stake.

Perhaps, we should ask why some consider it good use of public money to pay for IVF (neither a medical necessity or preference nor an emergency, but a lifestyle choice) when adoption is a viable option?

I am afraid this issue has the roots of its controversy in the apotheosis of mankind. There is now no longer a battle with God, just a rather tawdry civil war among minority factions.

How apt and how telling, that a 20 year-old can see it.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, can someone please explain how this is a victory for Dorries and Field? Their amendments have been dropped.

Anonymous said...

We don't want abortion in NI, the four main parties have come out against it, not only the DUP but right accross the spectrum.

With of course the exception of dawn purvis representative of a loyalist terror organisation turned political, a fine woman to try force abortion on the people here. The other is the Alliance's Anna Lo, the only ethnic minority member of the assembly we have. A former social worker she has sided with the pro choice people.

It looks like its for the chop anyway, good riddance to it.

Abortion is murder, we've lasted without this long, and we'll continue to last without it.

Well done to the DUP if indeed they are keeping this out, though I doubt it is part of the 42 day deal that never happened.

The four main parties know if this comes in over their heads, via a back door, they'll pay for it at the election booths, and rightly so.

No abortion in NI. Ulster says NO. :)

Anonymous said...

Ann I think there is plenty of abortion going on in NI - that's why 10% of your GPs have had to treat the ill-effects of a bothced home abortion. Of course a lot more abortion goes on out of NI, hence the numbers of women coming to England every year.