In a quiet news week, this bill would be the top news story, but tragedies overseas and New Labour memoirs at home have pushed it down the news agenda. Here's part of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship briefing on what happened on Monday:
What happened at Second Reading
The records of how MPs voted can be viewed by the following links:
Vote for the Bill at Second Reading: 340 in favour, 78 against:
The vote for the restricted timetable to hear the Bill was also carried in favour of the Government. This will mean that only 3 hours of parliamentary time is given to each of the key issues listed above, including the amendments of both sides on the issue of abortion. In total, including Report Stage, there will be a total of less than 3 days for this controversial Bill to be both debated and voted on:
265 in favour, 149 against:
Index to different parts of debate:
BBC Parliament 'The Record' summary of the debate in the chamber: http://www.ccfon.org/mediacentre.php?avid=76&avap=1.
There were, however, encouraging signs of God at work:
The All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group press statement quotes Ann Widdecombe’s encouraging words: “Clearly there is all to play for, with the large number of MPs abstaining indicating that many have still to make up their minds. We ensured the pro-life amendments—on the upper time limit for the gestation period for abortions—went down first, and if usual procedures are followed, they should be debated first. It was also encouraging how many Labour MPs spoke against the Bill—whereas once it would have been particularly difficult to get, for example, women Labour MPs to do so.”
The group also reports that there was clarity in the laying of the amendments, despite the physical scrum to get amendments amendments on abortion were laid in the following order: 12 weeks, 14 weeks, 16 weeks, 18 weeks, 20 weeks.
A letter to the Telegraph from over 50 scientists highlights the loophole in the Bill, which together with the planned repeal of the Cloning Act 2001, would allow cloned babies to be born. The letter calls for the ban in the 2001 Act to be kept . http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/05/13/nosplit/dt1301.xml#head8 (scroll down to ‘Embryo Bill Dangers’).
The Daily Mail today reports the growing unease amongst rebel Labour MPs at not being allowed free vote either at Second Reading or at Third Reading and the double standards that seem to be creeping in:
Please pray for the MPs who have laid amendments on abortion and also for Iain Duncan Smith, who was able to lay an amendment on fatherhood; Edward Leigh and David Burrowes who tabled amendments prohibiting animal-human hybrids and saviour siblings respectively, and Claire Curtis Thomas, who tabled amendments on informed consent for women contemplating abortion (which could be the most influential in the long-term future of abortion in this country) and banning abortion up to birth for disabled babies.
Whilst most of the news coverage was supportive of the Bill and tended to feature the pro-embryo research rally, the following clips were more balanced and Sky News screened their interview with Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship:
Sky News 5.30 pm report:
BBC News 24, 4.30 pm report:
This isn't normally a 'campaigning' blog, but the kind of things our Parliament is looking at fundamentally change our view of what it is to be human, and what kind of value we give to human life. We are moving from seeing life as intrinsically valuable, to seeing lives only as means to and end. In some ways this is the same attitude that is pushing thousands of children through the SATS mincer this week, not because the exams do them any good, but so that schools can be ranked in league tables. It is the commodification of children: not created and raised in love, but created as a means to some other end, and raised as educational units or consumer pawns (as Child of Our Time disturbingly showed last week).