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