Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Commons votes for death, fatherless children and hybrids

Briefing. Note the determination of MPs to refuse women whose are diagnosed with disabilities to have counseling: defeated by 309 to 173. Note also the massive scale of all these defeats for pro-lifers. As we and others have been saying, this was not a good time to introduce pro-life amendments on abortion, which was not at issue in the government's version of the bill.

From Christian Concern for our Nation:

MPs vote to keep the abortion upper time limit and abolish the need for consideration of father in IVF treatment

On Tuesday, 20th May, MPs voted against lowering the upper time limit for abortion, having abolished the requirement that clinics consider the child’s need for a father when giving IVF treatment earlier the same evening.

Amendments to lower the upper time limit to 12, 16, 20 and 22 weeks, were moved on the floor of the House, but not one was passed, in spite of evidence that more and more babies born at 22 and 23 weeks' gestation now survive and go on to lead healthy, productive lives.

Nadine Dorries MP gave an emotive and impactful speech in favour of lowering the upper time limit to 20 weeks. She gave an account of a botched abortion that she witnessed when she was working as a nurse: "A little boy was aborted into a cardboard bedpan, which was thrust into my arms. When I looked into the cardboard bedpan, the little boy was gasping for breath through the mucus and amniotic fluid. I stood by the sluice with him in my arms, in the bedpan, for seven minutes while he gasped for breath. A botched abortion became a live birth, and then, seven minutes later, a death."

On BBC breakfast TV, Nadine Dorries also made the point that the Government was not listening to what people want, as three quarters of women and two-thirds of GPs want the abortion rate lowered.

The BBC commented that MPs generally voted along party lines. David Cameron MP supported Nadine Dorries along with most Conservatives, whilst the Liberal Democrats largely followed Nick Clegg MP by voting against a reduction. The Prime Minister ensured that Labour MPs were given a 3-line whip to attend the vote and few defied the party line when voting on the issues. Votes as recorded in Hansard are at column 222.

Link to the vote on lowering abortion limit from 24 to 12 weeks, lost with a vote of 393 against to 71 for.

Link to the vote on lowering abortion from 24 to 16 weeks (column 275), lost by 387 against to 84 in favour.

Link to the vote on lowering abortion from 24 to 20 weeks (column 278), lost by
332 to 190 votes.

Link to the vote on lowering abortion from 24 to 22 weeks (column 286), lost
with a vote of 233 in favour to 304 against.

A new clause that would have laid down a statutory duty to give women who have had a test showing that the unborn baby has a substantial risk of being seriously handicapped the offer of counselling and information including the sources of help available to her was lost by 309 votes to 173.

The vote to retain the requirement to consider the ‘need for a father’ for the child resulting from IVF treatment was presented by Iain Duncan Smith MP in terms of defending the traditional family saying that removal of this consideration would send the message that fathers are less important than mothers. Geraldine Smith argued that no-one seemed to be able to name any single women or lesbian couples who had been refused treatment as a result of the current provisions on the ‘need for the father’ (which will now be replaced with consideration of the need for ‘supportive parenting’).

Link to the start of the debate on Tuesday 20th May 2008 here.

Vote on restoring the need for a father in IVF treatment (this included the need for a mother, due to the provision in the Bill for fast track parental orders which will facilitate two-father families), lost by 292 against to 217 in favour, here.

Link to the vote on restoring the need for father in IVF treatment by adding to supportive parenting the need for a father or male role model, lost 222 votes to 290, here.

Brief Analysis of Campaign

It was good that the Prime Minister came under so much pressure that he was forced to allow Labour MPs to vote according to their consciences on these ethical and moral issues. It was good that members of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-life Group were able to lay their amendments first and that the abortion amendments in favour of lowering the time limit were voted on first and in the right order.

Whilst it is disappointing that Labour whips had imposed a "three-line whip" on attendance for Labour MPs in the Commons for last night’s vote, this has at least enabled us to establish where the vast majority of MPs stand on life issues. This information will be useful to us in the future, both in terms of campaigning and in terms of voting at the next election.

Another encouraging development was that instead of pro-abortion MPs laying amendments to liberalise the law, pro-life MPs were able to lead the offensive to reduce the upper limit, whilst liberalisers could only seek to defend the present law. Unfortunately, amendments to liberalise the abortion law could still be defeated and we must continue to pray that this does not happen.

Public opinion and medical opinion has generally been favourable towards us.

We have lost this battle, but we must continue to speak up on behalf of light and truth in this nation. We must not give up for the sake of the children. The Church and the nation need to be aroused from slumber regarding pro-life issues. Perhaps now that it is clear just how bad it is we might do so. We need to keep praying.

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen