7:45 pm - May 19th 2008

by Unity    

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As I write this, there’s less than 24 hours to go before the abortion-related amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill are debated and a touch over 24 hours to go before they’re put to the vote.

Is there, i wonder, anything more that I can say on the subject that hasn’t already been said? Well, perhaps there’s just one more thing by way of giving an illustration of the kind of mindset that lies behind efforts to restrict legal access to abortion.

To start you off, let me direct you to this article in, of all places, yesterday’s Telegraph, which trails a Channel 4 documentary that will air tonight – in about 15 minutes’ time, in fact, a documentary that looks at the emergence of US style Christian Fundamentalism in the UK:

In case you’re in any doubt at all about what we’re dealing with her, let me direct you attention to this short passage at the end of the first page of the article:

I was invited to Carmel by someone I met on a demonstration against the Sexual Orientation Rights [gay rights] legislation outside Parliament at the beginning of last year. The protest had been organised by the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship (LCF) – or, more specifically, by Andrea Williams, its public policy director.

Ms Williams believes any law that goes against her strict biblical beliefs must be fought. Her latest target is the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill, which reaches a critical stage in its passage through Parliament next week. Ms Williams tells me why she is campaigning against it. “I believe there’s a spiritual battle going on,” she explains. “These laws reject God, and any rejection of God is the work of the enemy, Satan.”

The Lawyer’s Christian Fellowship is, of course, the parent organisation of Christian Concern for Our Nation, the organisation who’ve provided Nadine Dorries’ with her 20 weeks campaign website – in fact the article goes on to reveal that Nad’s had a bit more than just a website out of them:

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries will put down an amendment to lower the upper limit on abortion to 20 weeks from the current 24. That amendment and several others, from different MPs, have been written by Ms Williams.

The article is worth reading for another reason – because if pretty much verifies the chain of connections between Dorries, the Conservative Christian Fellowship and the Evangelical – or Fundamentalist, if you prefer – Christian right.

I also want to give you a bit of vision of the future, well, a possible future and one that a number of us of been fighting tooth and nail against for the last few weeks/months.

The Telegraph article notes that links exist between the LCF and US fundamentalist groups and, as some of us have been pointing out for quite a while, the strategy behind Dorries’s campaign is one that’s been cribbed wholesale from the US, the kind of strategy that, if left unchecked, leads to laws like this one:

Talking of the boonies, I see the great state of Oklahoma has just passed a new law requiring any girl requesting an abortion first to undergo an ultrasound examination, either abdominal or transvaginal. The decision as to whether it is transvaginal is the doctor’s, not the patient’s.

“For first-trimester abortions, the fetus is so small, you don’t get a good look unless you put in a vaginal probe. So, Oklahomans are forcing them to do that so the women can see the body parts better. You can have some 14 year old girl who got raped by her uncle Billy Bob, and she will still have to have that vaginal probe put up her an hour before the procedure. To me, it’s unconscionable. It’s all about shaming you”. Dr Kathryn Brewer.

Abortion is still legal in Oklahoma, but a tranche of legislation has introduced endless rules designed to restrict access to abortion and also (deliberately or not) to humiliate women who choose to have an abortion.

So here’s to the victims of incest and rape: we know you’ve been through a tough time, but we’re going to need to stick one more unnecessary piece of medical equipment inside your vagina, and subject you to a humiliating procedure when all you want to do is move past the traumatic experience and get on with life. Oh! Oh look! See that fetus? Now, where did you want to schedule your abortion? (Government has no place between my legs

Does any of that need further comment?

Do I need to point out that while the US Supreme Court is considering whether the use of lethal injections in executing the death penalty amounts to a cruel and unusual punishment, the state of Oklahoma sees no problem with compelling doctors to unnecessarily and unethically introduce a foreign object in the bodies of women who are seeking a first trimester abortion?

Is there anything more I need to say?

(Hat tip also to Philobiblion, who brought the Oklahoma law to my attention last week).

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About the author
'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,e) Briefings ,Feminism ,Nadine Dorries ,Sex equality ,Westminster

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Reader comments

Sweet. It would have helped if this programme was last week. None of the MSM coverage focused on Nadine Dorries’ links to these Christian fundamentlists except on blogs. Shameful.

Can anyone get this on YouTube? I missed it unfortunately.

2. HumbleNorm

I watched bits of it through my fingers, but I’m ashamed to say that I had to keep switching over, as some of the stuff the fundies were spouting was setting my teeth on edge. The bit that really stuck in my head was one gentleman, talking straight-faced about how “us native Britons” and Christian immigrants weren’t reproducing enough, creating the threat of Muslims getting into power and provoking the wrath of God.
As I say, I wasn’t particularly good at forcing myself to watch (I have a thing about ranting loonies) It was definitely scary to discover how much influence certain crackpots seem to have over a Member of Parliment though.

Mind you, given the damp squib that the “anti” vote proved to be last night, I imagine the pro-choice side will be OK today.

On thing which is interesting is that this prompted me to look at my Conservative MPs voting record and revise my previously good opinion of him. It is noticable that when he was voting (rightly in my view) to oppose the ban on fox hunting he was all for freedom and keeping the state and public sentiment based on very poor information out of private decisions. When it comes to one of his female constituents, suddenly I’m a moral imbecile and not to be allowed to make my own decisions in my own life over my own body. Freedom for him, but not for me, because I am female and can neither be expected nor allowed to make my own decisions.

Why a Dorries goes along with this is one of the mysteries of the universe. She is a direct beneficiary of the view of her as a morally competent fully-aware being, not ruled by her genitals. This suits her when it comes to being allowed to hold a seat as an MP, and she presumably thinks that her decision to dump a marriage is her own business, but when it comes to some other woman’s body, then suddenly only Nadine is able to make a decision on their behalf. The technical name for this is ‘Queen Bee’ but at least as plausible description is ‘useful idiot’. Dorries thinks she’s being respected for her own views; nah, she’s just a Quisling for a group of males who have found a way they can re-package good old sexism as ethics.

It’s been a useful discussion in as much as it has shown that the Conservative front bench’s authoritarian streak is, from the point of view of someone on the receiving end, indistinguishable from the left-wing variety. The first chance they’ve had to refuse to allow further state incursion in to the decisions which should be taken in the individual case and resist ill-founded hysterical appeals to emotion, and they have failed abysmally. They also failed to spot Dorries for a barker.

The Conservatives look as though they can still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and be caught reverting to nasty-party type, particularly when it comes to kicking women whilst simultaneously preening themselves about their superior moral sentiments.

“ah, she’s just a Quisling for a group of males who have found a way they can re-package good old sexism as ethics.”

I’m genuinely not sure that this is a reasonable way to characterise women like Dorries who are anti-choice – indeed, it’s almost sexism in itself to say “no sane woman could want her reproductive rights restricted, so she must be brainwashed by evil men”.

(according to the YouGov poll discussed and admittedly criticised on another thread, a *higher* proportion of women than men support greater restrictions on abortion…)

What impressed me about Dispatches was that it showed how media-savvy and sophisticated and well-organised some of these people are.

True, there are shrieking fundamentalists like Stephen Green who routinely convict themselves out of their own mouths. But Williams presented herself and her organisation very well, even though her views are as hardcore fundamentalist as Green’s.

Example: during a Westminster demo she steered cameras away from some deranged skinhead screaming about repetance and brimstone. When asked by the reporter: ‘Is it what he says, or the way he’s saying it?’ Williams said (quoting from memory) ‘I don’t disagree at all… but it’s all about presentation.’

These people need to be taken seriously – although it’s always difficult when we’re talking about Nadine Dorries…

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