Well, it appears that the latest in Nadine Dorries’ attempts to limit women’s reproductive freedom got pretty short shrift in Parliament (The Guardian). From the Guardian’s live blog:
What does it mean? On Twittershortly before the vote took place Labour’s Chris Bryant posted this:
I suspect Nadine Dorries has done more harm to social conservatism on abortion than anyone in 25 years. Hurrah!
Really? It is certainly a terrible defeat, perhaps even a textbook example of how not to approach a free-vote, conscience issue. Dorries tabled what appeared at face value a relatively technical change, and yet she ended up losing the support of her government, a large section of her party and even the co-sponsor of her amendment (Frank Field).
But this wasn’t really a decisive encounter in the culture war; it was more a case of Westminster ganging up on one of parliament’s easiest targets. (Which is why the PMQ’s exchange earlier was significant. When your own party leader treats you as a figure of ridicule, you are in trouble.) Does this really tell us much about the balance of power between social liberalism and social conservatism in Britain today? I doubt it. The only lesson that really stands out is that, if you want change legislation on a contentious issue, don’t ask Dorries to take the lead.
I don’t suppose that will stop her attempts to limit abortion rights.
In all the furore over the Dorries-Field attempt to restrict women’s reproductive rights, I believe that it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that this reflects a mere handful of amendments to therather larger legislative effort, a bill to reform the National Health Service.
More over at Posterous…
Nadine Dorries’ thinly disguised attempt to limit terminations seems to be running out of momentum as an understanding of its implications and motivation spreads (Anti-abortion bid in disarray as critics rally | World news | The Guardian). Some statistics relating to terminations in England and Wales have been published by the Guardian (Abortion statistics for England and Wales: see the latest breakdown).
Excellent news. Now let’s display the same attention to detail where the wider aspects of the Health and Social Care bill are concerned. Does it endanger the NHS, as the BMA suggests?
Via the National Secular Society comes this appraisal of Nadine Dorries’ plans aimed at restricting women’s reproductive rights (Nadine Dorries’ abortion proposals – Fact and Fiction | National Secular Society).
The key issue here is the use of the word ‘independent’. Dorries uses it as ‘independent from the abortion providers’, but knowing full well that the bodies she seeks to use for offering advice are anti-abortion organisations (and generally religiously motivated) intends Parliament and the public to misinterpret this as ‘independent” in a more general sense.
In this article, the National Secular Society has provided a detailed synopsis (with links) as to why this set of proposals are so thoroughly objectionable.
It’s interesting to note parallels between the devious language usage here and that used by American creationists – ‘Teach the Controversy’, where there is no controversy save in the minds of the cloth-eared creationists. There’s a constant strain of dishonesty apparent in the way that those motivated by christian beliefs seem to try and influence policy.
I don’t often blog about political issues here, but I’m finding the illiberal and frankly unjust policies of the Tory government too much to bear at the moment. And, yes, I regard this as a Tory government since their LibDem partners seem particularly passive.
Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, has long desired to eliminate as many terminations of pregnancy as she possibly can. She has repeatedly relied upon misinformation and untruth in her campaigns (see for example this, this, this, and this). Her latest gambit is to file an amendment to the Health and Social Care bill due to be discussed in parliament next week. This amendment seeks to require women seeking termination to receive ‘advice’ from a body distinct from the termination provider.
This is couched in language that on the face of it seems reasonable. But it’s only in digging deeper that the serious flaws in the proposal become clear. The advisory groups envisaged by Dorries are principally those with an anti-abortion agenda. You can read more about the lies deceit and ignorance being spread by these groups in this Guardian article: Abortion: pregnancy counselling centres found wanting. Naturally, those in favour of a woman’s right to choose over her reproduction are up in arms over this amendment. It would seem from a later Guardian article that the depths of duplicity in this amendment may have finally sunk in to Number 10: Downing Street forces U-turn on Nadine Dorries abortion proposals ( though see below: Dorries has claimed this is untrue). In my view, this ghastly MP is not making these proposed amendments through any desire to help women, but rather through a deep-seated objection to terminations. This is shared with Frank Field, an MP with a long history od such objections.
I suspect Nadine Dorries is now feeling her PR advantage slipping away. She’s now been posting increasingly hysterical articles on her ‘blog’. Her blog, by the way, doesn’t permit any commenting and in any case is 70% fiction according to her. This is the latest, posted Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 23:45 [Blog articles at blog.dorries.org have a habit of disappearing once the author realises her foot is well and truly planted in her mouth, so I pasted the text below. Its current URL is this. Emphasis in bold is mine]
For those who have read this in the Guardian
as has just been confirmed on Newsnight, Downing St has denied the story.
If Downing Street were going to do anything, does anyone seriously think they would give it to the Guardian first?
No, obviously, but Evan Harris would.
The truth behind the story is probably slightly more menacing, more menacing even than Evan Harris.
Bear in mind this amendment is to offer women the option of independent counselling, delivered not by the abortion provider, not by a religious organisation, but by one of the 80,000 BACP professional counsellors across the country who are prohibited at present from working with pregnant women.
It’s just an offer, they don’t have to accept it, however, those who have doubts and need help may do and if they do, then so be it, surely it is their choice?
Rumour has it that Evan Harris, abortion and assisted death zealot, is applying huge pressure to the office of Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister. That would be the no longer an elected MP Evan Harris. It would appear that he believes he has immense influence on Government policy, more influence than elected Liberal Democrat MPs even.
I am led to believe that this story in the Guardian originated from him.
I am quite sure that the office of the DPM would like to have a little more information about what the public thinks before it tried to apply pressure on No10 to put the brakes on an amendment which has such huge support amongst women. When I say women, I don’t include those who write for the Guardian, obviously. Nick Clegg may also like to hang fire awhile and see what else pops up in the papers over the next few days. I can assure him, it will be far more interesting than anything Evan Harris has to say.
Isn’t this a bit strong? And in any case, Dorries is economical with the truth when she says ‘independent’. She is also wrong to claim that abortion providers seek to make profit from terminations. I note a blog article (Abortion Amendments to the Health & Social Care Bill) at the Conservative Women’s Organisation blog concludes with this:
You still need two doctors to authorise a termination. Both of them weigh up the patient’s decision and will only sign if they believe that she has come to the decision independently and has considered all other choices – they would be negligent if they didn’t.
Instead of making abortion physically and mentally harder for women in the UK, we should be looking at prevention and education – and by this I do not mean we need to teach graphic details to 13 year olds and give lessons with condoms and bananas. Parents need to take a bigger part in the education of their children and talking about sex appropriately when they’re young is the best way to de-stigmatise it.
The fact is that the health and welfare of women would be affected in a bill that doesn’t mention termination once in its 420 pages.
I urge every MP, woman or man, on whatever bench, to allow women to choose for themselves. I urge every constituent to contact your MP to get your voice heard.
VOTE AGAINST the 3 amendments and do not allow the government to introduce any other comparable legislation.
As a final note, despite the appalling Dorries and her vile amendment, it’s important not to lose sight of other issues around the bill as a whole. Some commentators have observed that it may well lead to the complete breakup of the NHS.
Update: Despite Dorries’ assertion that “as has just been confirmed on Newsnight, Downing St has denied the story”, the BBC is reporting (David Cameron ‘won’t back abortion advice change’) that
David Cameron “cannot support” an attempt by a Conservative MP to change the rules on the advice that can be offered to women seeking abortions.
The PM’s office said he was sympathetic to Nadine Dorries’ view that women should be offered independent advice.
But he was concerned the planned amendment to the Health Bill would prevent abortion providers like Marie Stopes from giving counselling as well
The escalating row over the News of the World phone hacking brings further revelations overnight (News of the World hacking row escalates). Hopefully, News International’s attempt to deflect all responsibility from Rebekah brooks to Andy Coulson will fail, and blame will fall appropriately.
The breathtaking extent of the scandal is rather worrying: why did Surrey Police take no action over the Dowler family phone hacks? Why did the Metropolitan Police appear to do their best efforts to sweep this whole sick story under the carpet at a time when it appeared to involve only ‘Celebs’?
A campaign for a public inquiry will be launched today – Hacked Off. There’s a petition calling for a public inquiry.
Will this scandal prevent the UK Government from approving the takeover of BSkyB by the Murdoch empire, further extending the ownership of UK media?
The Guardian reports that the police bill to protect the Liberal Democrats at their part conference in Sheffield this weekend will reach £2 million (Police spend £2m to protect Liberal Democrats at Sheffield conference| guardian.co.uk).
Police are spending an estimated £2m to protect this weekend’s Liberal Democrat conference, with measures including a 2.5m high steel and concrete fence to deter up to 10,000 protesters.
A thousand officers will be on duty or standby from Friday until Sunday to shield the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, in his own city from anger over public spending cuts and his party’s U-turn on student fees.
Apparently Nick Clegg is to tell his party to ‘hold their nerve’ – I wonder how successful he’ll be with Lib Dem support slumping. The Guardian reports (Clegg tells Lib Dems to hold nerve) that
The latest YouGov survey for the Sun puts the Lib Dems on just 9%, trailing far behind their Conservative coalition partners on 34% and Labour on 45% – the largest lead recorded by the poll for the opposition since the general election.
And this on top of their hardly stellar slump to 6th place at the recent Barnsley Central byelection. I guess this is the penalty you pay when you discard your principles for a slice of political power.
One wonders whether the 1000 or so police officers would rather be doing something else, particularly when faced by the police service cuts to be imposed by the minority Tory government with support from those LibDems inside the conference centre…
Not too much activity here on Flies&Bikes lately, mostly because I’ve been more active posting about intelligent design over at Wonderful Life, and grumbling about politics at Posterous. Oh and the small matter of the day job.
I just thought I’d point out the current status of voting intention, as revealed by YouGov polls. I note the spike in LibDem popularity, back in the General Election campaign, when they were at the height of their campaign (including their stated intentions about Higher Education funding). But look how their popularity has slipped since they took on the role of patsys for the Tories.
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