Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee Report on Scientific Developments Relating to the Abortion Act 1967
The Science and Technology Committee issued its report on scientific developments which ought to be considered in any new Parliamentary debate relating to abortion. In summary the main report, which is strongly anti–life and contrary to the weight of evidence submitted to the Committee, was supported by eight of the eleven members of the committee, including the chairman Phil Willis. Links to media coverage and opinion poll listed below.
The Committee concluded that:
There is no scientific basis to reduce the 24 week upper limit for abortion.
The requirement for two doctors’ signatures before an abortion can be carried out should be removed.
Nurses and midwives should be allowed to carry out early abortions.
An exhaustive list of abnormalities on what constitutes “serious handicap” (which is used as a reason for aborting foetuses after 24 weeks) is not feasible, but that guidance on the meaning would be helpful.
Foetal pain is not relevant to the question of abortion law.
A minority Report (contained in the Committee’s report at page 71) was proposed by Nadine Dorries and seconded by Bob Spink, essentially rejects the committee's findings. The minority report also highlights the misgivings on the oral evidence selection process. Of the 18 witnesses chosen to give evidence before the Committee, 13 were pro-abortion and only 5 pro-life.
Full members of the committee:
Mr Phil Willis MP, Liberal Democrat, Harrogate and Knaresborough, (Chairman)
Adam Afriyie MP, Conservative, Windsor
Mrs Nadine Dorries MP, Conservative, Mid Bedfordshire
Mr Robert Flello MP, Labour, Stoke-on-Trent South
Linda Gilroy MP, Labour, Plymouth Sutton
Dr Evan Harris MP, Liberal Democrat, Oxford West & Abingdon
Dr Brian Iddon MP, Labour, Bolton South East
Chris Mole MP, Labour/Co-op, Ipswich
Dr Bob Spink MP, Conservative, Castle Point
Graham Stringer MP, Labour, Manchester, Blackley
Dr Desmond Turner MP, Labour, Brighton Kemptown
Christian Medical Fellowship comment and Press Release on Report
Nadine Dorries on Radio 4 (Needs Realplayer) http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain/ram/today3_abortion_20071031.ram
MPs call for abortion law reforms
Meet Dr Death, the Lib Dem MP Evan Harris who backs embryo experiments, euthanasia and freer abortions
Tories lead the protests over call to relax curbs on abortions
Rebel MPs' minority report over abortion change is rare form of dissent
MPs reject cut in 24 weeks time limit for abortions
Make it easier to get an abortion, say MPs
Bob Spink: Abortion inquiry findings laughable
Public Opinion Statistics:
76% of people, including fully 81% of women, think abortion a baby at six months' pregnancy is cruel (Choose Life/ComRes May 06)
68% of people, including 72% of women, want a substantial reduction in the upper time limit to around 13 weeks (Life/ComRes Sept 07)
55% of people regard the present law allowing abortion up to birth on grounds of disability as unacceptable (Choose Life/ComRes May 06)
69% of people think that making abortion available too easily cheapens the value of young life (Life/ComRes Sept 07)
75% think that preventing alternatives by offering attractive alternatives is better for women (Life/ComRes Sept 07)
I'm not a big fan of public opinion, since by the same standard we should bring back capital punishment, but I'm blogging this press release from the Lawyers Christian Fellowship in its entirety because this is such an important issue. I may be dense, but 200,000 abortions a year doesn't suggest to me that our laws are too restrictive, so it beggars belief that the MP's want to liberalise the abortion laws still further. And I can't imagine how a midwife, who's vocation is to bring babies into the world alive, will possibly be able to deliberately end the lives of unborn children. How long before 'allowed' becomes 'it's part of your job'?
If foetal pain is not relevant to abortion law, does that mean non-fatal road accidents are not relevant to road safety? Or that anaesthetic is not relevant to surgery? Am I alone in finding this a deeply worrying sentence to come from those we've elected to govern us?