Back on abortion


9:00 am - September 30th 2008

by Kate Belgrave    


      Share on Tumblr

I had a very useful chat with Abortion Rights campaign co-ordinator Louise Hutchins last week: the time fast approaches for the report stage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill – and for fighting attendant dingbat anti-choice amendments to the Abortion Act.

And there are plenty of them this time round, people – each more patronising to us girls than the last. What a display they make, too: you rarely see such a memorable range of turds outside of safari.

Floating atop the pile is the legendary Edward Leigh’s proposal to implement a compulsory cooling-off period of seven days for women who want abortions – Ed, I guess, having finally bought into the long-held – if unproven – pro-life theory that when you shriek a faceful of Jesus at a woman for a calendar week, her maternal instinct replaces all her other ones.

This is not the first time Ed’s taken the romantic view of our man Jesus H, of course, or indeed of the miracle of life: in only May this year, Ed was to be found blazing a conservative digital trail on the Cornerstone website (whatever that is), where he described the HFEB as ‘yet another affront by the government to the Judaeo-Christian values of this nation,’ (I tend to put the 42 days’ detention legislation and the Iraq war in that category myself, but we won’t carp on that one for now) and went on to tell us that ‘science has enabled us to see the child ‘walking in the womb’ at 12 weeks’ – perhaps forgetting in his enthusiasm that science hasn’t shown us a child walking much before 12 months outside of it…

These pro life amendments also flag up the notion of counselling women out of their evil propensity to put themselves first and indulge in termination: ‘she [a woman wanting an abortion] should have counselling ‘from a registered medical practitioner, or health visitor (not Nurse Dorries, we pray) about the respective medical risks of, and about other matters relating to, terminating and carrying a pregnancy to term (those ‘other matters’ presumably pertaining to eternity among the dammed).

Other highlights include increasing the number of doctors required to approve late abortions and restricting abortion on mental health grounds – I will bleat no further on the details, but give you the list to read for yourselves.

Suffice to say – as Hutchins rightly does – that the sinister aspect of these amendments is that they would have ‘a very restrictive impact that would impact on all women’s rights to abortion…’ – they’re about restricting the grounds for abortion in all cases. Unlike the attempts this year to lower the upper time limit for legal abortion from 24 weeks (a gestation at which very, very few abortions are carried out), the present pro-life amendments would affect every women who sought a termination.

‘They are also problematic in terms of the support they could muster,’ Hutchins says. ‘Some of them are being posed very falsely in terms of equalities… We’ve got a job of work to do to clarify to MPs just how disinegenuous that agenda is and how damaging it would be to women.’

The other important job of work is selling an amendment to extend the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland – Janine mentioned this recently on LC. Tabled by the cross party group of Diane Abbott, Jacqui Lait, Evan Harris, Katy Clark, this one will show MPs’ true inclinations. I have already suggested that Gordon Brown might struggle to reconcile the ambitions of women in Northern Ireland with the priorities of Northern Ireland’s very own DUP – Gordon’s unlikely saviours on 42 days’ detention. ‘Well – I only know what you know,’ Hutchins smiles when I ask how far Brown is up the creek on this one.

Whatever the case with our Gordon’s deals, there isn’t much time to move: as I understand it, if criminal justice law is devolved to Northern Ireland, abortion law will devolved as well. Hutchin says that large numbers of women and women’s rights activists are inclined to get moving, as a result. Hutchins mentions Alliance for Choice, a grassroots pro choice organisation: ‘Alliance for Choice is having very well attended meetings,’ Hutchins says. ‘They have surprised themselves by the support they have been massing. They have got very good signup from trade unions, from women’s organisations, rape crises, and women’s aid centres. We’re also working with family planning in Northern Ireland – they have done a lot of work to challenge the legal framework there.’

She says Alliance for Choice will speak at next week’s Abortion Rights briefing on the HFEB and amendments at parliament. Will catch up with them there.

I’m interested to know, btw, where the Lib Dems sit on these latest Abortion Act amendments: after all, tis in the free vote arena of subjects like abortion rights that we tend to discover who is really liberal and left, and who really isn’t.

Etc.

More soon.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Kate Belgrave is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She is a New Zealander who moved to the UK eight years ago. She was a columnist and journalist at the New Zealand Herald and is now a web editor. She writes on issues like public sector cuts, workplace disputes and related topics. She is also interested in abortion rights, and finding fault with religion. Also at: Hangbitching.com and @hangbitch
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Coalition For Choice ,Feminism ,Sex equality

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


Regarding the NI thing: I’m in favour of abortion rights, on principle. But there’s no point in having a devolved assembly unless it can make its own decisions and do things differently from the rest of the UK. Does the majority in NI really want abortion to be illegal? If so, then probably it should be, since that would be the democratic outcome.

And that’s the interesting aspect of it all.

I’m not in favour of faffing around in the internal workings of other nations either and indeed would actively oppose it (bet that comes back to bite me). Nonetheless, there is much to be said for supporting sisters in other nations as THEY campaign to be heard on issues of importance to them (another eg – I tend to support trade union activists around the planet, even when the government line in their nations is that they ought to be shot, etc. Tis all about solidarity, in the end).

As discussed above, AR is supporting a grassroots campaign in Ireland to bring abortion rights to that part of the world and it is certainly my understanding from AR that it is the local grassroots campaign that has brought the campaign to Wesminster. I have no idea if the majority in NI wants abortion to made illegal. I suppose we’ll find out when we see if the campaign succeeds or fails.

What is equally interesting, of course, is Wesminter MPs’ views on this initiative. Would like VERY MUCH to hear Lib Dem views on abortion in Northern Ireland and devolution, for instance – and the Abortion Act amendments as they stand for the report stage. This is where we separate the sheep from the lefties, after all. Jennie, Darrell, Aaoron – are you there?

Okay, Kate – from the voting lists on HFE bill abortion amendments…

Reduction of upper limit to 12 or 16 weeks – 3 LD’s voted in favour (Greg Mulholland, John Pugh and Bob Russell), with 48 against.

At 20 weeks, 13 voted for the amendment (Norman Baker, Colin Breed, Simon Hughes, David Laws, Greg Mulholland, John Pugh, Daniel Rogerson, Paul Rowen, Bob Russell, Andrew Stunell, Sarah Teather, Roger Williams, Richard Younger-Ross) with 42 against.

And on the 22 week amendment, 23 voted for a reduction (Norman Baker, John Barrett, Colin Breed, Annette Brooke, Lorely Burt, Mike Hancock, Martin Horwood, Simon Hughes, Mark Hunter, David Laws, Greg Mulholland, John Pugh, Alan Reid, Daniel Rogerson , Paul Rowen, Bob Russell, Andrew Stunell, Sarah Teather, Steve Webb, Mark Williams, Roger Williams, Phil Willis, Richard Younger-Ross) and only 32 against.

Clegg and Huhne voted against all the amendments and Cable appears to have no showed any of the votes…

Cabalamat,

Does the majority in NI really want abortion to be illegal? If so, then probably it should be, since that would be the democratic outcome.

Ah, the tyranny of the majority.

the tyranny of representative democracy indeed.

Thanks Unity – that’s definitely helpful. Interesting no-show from Dr Cable…?

What I’d really like to hear from the Lib Dems here is their views on the anti-abortion amendments tabled this time around: introducing a cooling off period, mental health counselling, introduction of a requirement for an extra medical opinion for late abortions AND festooning women with pro life literature – any takers, people? This is the sort of issue that has me voting for a party or otherwise.

A few comments on the pro-choice amendments would also be useful – getting rid of the requirements for two drs signatures, permitting nurses to perform terminations, and of course the extension of abortion rights to NI. Evan Harris is a trailblazer here – is everybody else?

I wasn’t aware that Labour necessarily had a firm party policy on abortion, as far as I know Lib Dem’s don’t either. It’s an issue seen as too controversial by all to allow party politics to decide it. If only all the MPs that then get a free vote could carry on that mentality to say it’s too controversial for them to vote on it solely on their personal beliefs.

Wrt comments 1, 2, 4 and 5:

The Northern Ireland Act 2006 sets out three types of powers; transferred (which Stormont handles); reserved (which Westminster handles but could be transferred at a later date [I think I’m right in saying through secondary legislation]); and excepted (which Westminster handles and will continue to handle unless there is a change in the law). While health is transferred, criminal law is reserved. Arguments about respecting devolution notwithstanding, Westminster is the place to make the change as Stormont does not currently have competence in that area.

On the issue of deals with the DUP, I rather doubt that the Whips will feel able to impose their will on anyone. For one thing, there is no clear consensus as to which way they would whip; indeed, there is outright division. Equally, whipping either way would annoy a section that could otherwise be relied upon to support the government. Thirdly, even the suggestion of whipping caused a minor furore at the last set of votes. In answer to Lee @ 7, the party line is that there is no party line.

I remain worried that, should the Conservatives have a majority after the next election, there will be rather more restrictions on abortion.

xD.

Yo Lee,

Yep, you’d be right about Labour there – what a mixed bag they are. Catholics, fundamentalists, and in the cabinet too. Normal people in the form of Emily Thornberry, Katy Clark. And our Gordon playing with his mates of the DUP. Dunno who is about what half the time there.

What I wanted to know, though, was how the lib demmers on this blog viewed the amendments, so that we could start to get a feel for inclinations. No harm in asking that – that’s how you start deciding what a party is all about. Sure, abortion is a free vote – I’m just interested to know how lib dem party members would be encouraging their MPs to vote. For all I know, the lib dems are v strong on abortion rights and on liberalising abortion law (certainly my hero (no sarcasm meant) Evan Harris is) and they’d be looking to take a lead on the subject if in parliament.

It is also possible, may I add, to hide behind the ‘free vote’ aspect of things as well – instead of announcing a strong party line, you can say in a wimpy sort of way that yr not saying anything, because it’s a case on individual conscience, not party line.

So…

What are your views on those conservative amendments?

“What I wanted to know, though, was how the lib demmers on this blog viewed the amendments, so that we could start to get a feel for inclinations.”

I thought you were getting at that, which I didn’t understand given the vocal threads about it in the past that greatly detail the views of people here 🙂

I’ve stated previously I think that the way things are currently seems like a good compromise, though two doctors are unnecessary to sign off such a thing and out of step with any other medical procedure and should be changed, but would personally welcome greater liberalisation of abortion law.

One thing I don’t understand is this free vote thing, esp for ‘controversial’ subjects.

If I am a pol, why should I be allowed to vote ‘with my conscience’?

If my ‘conscience’ is not exactly aligned with the party’s then surely I am not representative of the party or the people (ie ME) who elected them? They have misrepresented themselves, surely? Ruth Kelly???? I didn’t vote Labour for somebody with her views to represent me, but I would have thought that if she had these views she should have resigned years ago, or changed party. (In bed with closet Catholic T Blair?)

Am I being an idiot? I know I’m being naive. It just seems such a stupid and fundamental get-out. If you were elected as a member of a party who has a line on these things, WTF allow people to vote with their prejudices/fear of being de-selected. I for one, will be hugely disinclined to re-vote for an MP who wimps out like that

Oh yes, Labour/Lib Dems don’t really have a line on that… silly me, but still… #

For me this begs the question a bit.

I fucking *hate* these people. Perhaps, as Kate has asked, the Lib Dems could provide a convincing alternative for me to vote for regarding women’s bodies. V quiet at the moment though

Presumably, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is not a campaigning issue though?

Dunno what you think Jennie Rigg or the other Lib Dems here?

“If my ‘conscience’ is not exactly aligned with the party’s then surely I am not representative of the party or the people (ie ME) who elected them?”

Free votes are only used on issues where conscience really comes in to it, in the sense we’re talking about. The party line cannot, and will likely never be, about saying christianity can go screw itself, or vice versa. It’s too sensitive sometimes to tell people that they are wrong according to your beliefs, and this is right. Why should an out and out socialist who is in to trade unions big time, and has fought all their life for the working classes feel abandoned by Labour because they (hypothetically) decide to take a paty line on abortions that says they want people to have the choice to abort at any stage during pregnancy?

Religion and politics don’t mix, they shouldn’t mix, but on some issues like this the religion of a person so shapes their very morals and beliefs that you can’t ignore that it’s there, and you have to be compassionate to that. That MPs get free votes on issues that should be weighing the conscience of the general public is another issue, but not constrained to this single debate.

You’re never going to get a party specific line on this, MPs will always be individuals. If abortion rights are a huge thing for you then I suggest you search public whip and vote for the MP that voted most in line with your views on the matter and vote for them.

Cawkac,

Mostly because issues like abortion don’t split neatly on party or political lines. There are lefties who oppose abortion (I’d point here to the Communisti Cattolici) and people on the right who support abortion (such as Barry Goldwater).

People are very rarely exactly aligned with their parties. Looking at the Public Whip, only fourteen of the 646 MPs have always voted with their party.

As is fairly clear, abortion is a deeply emotional issue. For many people, being compelled to vote one way or the other would preclude membership of a party. From the point of view of forming effective political movements, it makes sense to acknowledge that there are some issues where consensus cannot be found.

xD.

@14 & 13

Sorry, I didn’t vote labour at the last general election for Ruth Kelly’s & Tony Blair’s reactionary views on abortion, I mistakenly voted for some idea of ‘..Labour’..’.

To me religion & politics DO and SHOULD mix and the dichotomies are not an interesting side show but a fundamental part of their party politics. So both of you, tell me why I should support Ruth Kelly. From my lay view, it seems that her religion is more important than her politics and that seems to have been supported since she was in the cabinet.

I got confirmed by one Robert Runcie by the way and went through the hell of Anglican angst. Aged 12 I couldn’t really think it through. An interesting mix of christianity & politics and if you wanked you were dead…

As a side note, the first time I ever heard Black Sabbath was at a confirmation class. The Rector’s daughter rocked, she turned the volume up to 11!

1972 I think

And I had bad thoughts about the priests daughter…

And who the fuck do you confess that to?

[17] lol

This Lib Dem is with Evan Harris on abortion. Also, bear in mind that it was David Steel who originally introduced the bill that legalised abortion in the UK. I think you have go with the science on when the cut off should be for terminations.

15. Get back to us when you manage to extricate the “people” from the MP, because until they’re mindless drones you will always have people on either side of the religious scale sitting on the same side of the political one.

Hi again all,

Interesting stuff.

Lee, I think we need things in context, though – the reason I asked specifically what lib dems on LC thought of each anti-choice amendment was that we’ve been discussing lib dem policy generally on here over the last week – a discussion I have found useful – and I was interested in views on this latest stage of the bill.

Doesn’t particularly matter what people have argued elsewhere – in this instance, we’re talking not about threats to the 24-week time-limit for abortion, but about insidious attempts to chip away at aspects of the Abortion Act that would affect ALL women seeking abortions, not only the very small number who seek late abortions.

There’s a reason for putting such a question, and Dave Cole gets close to it in his observations above – the Tories are very likely to try to restrict abortion law if they end up in government (and it seems very likely at the moment that they will). If that’s the case, the views of lib dem MPs could be crucial to holding the pro-abortion line (that’s assuming they, and Labour, end up with enough MPs to hold anything, and I’m not convinced they will). Certainly, some Conservative MPs have very liberal views on abortion law – Jacqui Lait and John Bercow are examples – but it’d be good to know if there will be others.

For all I know, the Lib Dems generally promote a strong pro-abortion line in the ranks – certainly, Evan Harris is a leading light in this area, and someone I admire as an intellect and campaigner – but I wanted to push a bit further here and ask straight out what views the lib demmers here held. Some members of that party may take a conservative view of abortion law and may indeed plan to do so in parliament. Fair play to them – I don’t like that view at all and would actively campaign against it – but I would respect an honest stating of it, rather than an evasion.

Which brings us to the free vote issue – I tend to agree with commentators on this thread who take issue with the free vote aspect of abortion law, simply because they feel it gives politicians an opportunity to be evasive, or to claim religion and politics can’t be mixed in this instance, when in fact they’re simply saying they don’t feel a view either way would be electorally advantageous. I always check to see who doesn’t quite make it to parliament for this or that free vote, and I always write those who don’t manage to show up as evasive.

‘Get back to us when you manage to extricate the “people” from the MP, because until they’re mindless drones you will always have people on either side of the religious scale sitting on the same side of the political one.’

What do you mean, Lee? – don’t quite understand this.

“bear in mind that it was David Steel who originally introduced the bill that legalised abortion in the UK.”

Actually you’re wrong Andrew. Abortion was already effectively legal in certain closely defined circumstances (such as rape) well before 1967. Just google ‘Aleck Bourne’ who was a doctor who performed an abortion in 1938 on a 14 yr old who had been gang-raped by a group of sailors. He has been conveniently forgotten by the pro-choice brigade because he was opposed to the 1967 liberalisation.

Kate, in pretty much any matters pertaining to legislation about abortion you can take Evan Harris’s view for mine.

Re: Vince, afaik, he purposefully abstained because his personal views are restrictive but he doesn’t feel right about forcing them on other people – a position I can respect

Peter Pan,

You’re completely missing the point. The restrictions pre-1967 meant that abortion was nigh-on impossible. It is the situation that still exists in Northern Ireland.

As to Aleck Bourne, you’re again completely missing the point. Bourne was tried in a court under the Offences Against the Person Act. I would say that the case of a raped, fourteen year old at six weeks’ gestation should not be tried in the courts; I think that all but those who argue for the severest restrictions in a woman’s right to choose would accept that this was a justifiable instance of abortion. However, the legal situation was not clear and effectively relied on jury nullification for acquittal. Certainly, Bourne was brave but I would suggest that it is his very bravery that shows that the law, as was, did not cover the delicacies of the situation adequately.

xD.

@5 Lee griffin: the tyranny of representative democracy indeed.

The worst possible way of running a country.

Except for all the others.

The case of Vince Cable is informative. I’ve read that he self-describes as socially conservative although his belief in democratic values prevents him from wishing to impose his personal views on others where he is unaffected by them.

In this I think he shows some remarkable political consistency which demands respect even when it is personally disagreeable and this exemplifies the issue behind conscience votes.

I can see that a legal prohibition is unworkable, despite the contention than many feel abortion is undesirable. So it seems to me that the only acceptable position is one which clarifies the framework in which serious decisions are made and let those who hold personal views uphold a voluntary code.

I recognise that politics and religion do mix and that this can be either a good or a bad thing, but I think it is important to create separation with the idea that they necessarily must as this creates a false division between potential allies that their religious (or anti-religious) differences are insurmountable.

All this gets me back to an old theme that good and bad are not black and white…

So my Tory MP Jacqui Lait is included in tabling the motion on abortion rights in NI. Lait, who I lobbled last time, didn’t come to see me but interestingly wrote me a long letter in reply regards to the Bill saying she supported keeping the time limits to 24 weeks.

Btw: will be there another lobby and/or demo when it is debated again?

I’s fairly simple Kate, abortion isn’t a socialist issue, or a conservative one. You can be an illiberal, authoritative, fascist and think women should be able to decide on abortions completely and have less restrictions, you can also be a completely liberal individual who thinks abortions are a sin. Religious belief does not fit in to the scales of politics, so for some on here to claim that MPs should “tow the party line” on abortion, or indeed that there should be a party line at all, seems ludicrous to me.

This isn’t an issue where you can look at all the facts and information and then argue over the best way to come up with the same solution, like local taxation. It is a deeply personal one, so to ask MPs to vote without the personal element is bizarre. I mean, I have my issues with free votes as I believe free votes are essentially a poor substitute for a referendum, but you can’t say that just because an MP is Labour, or Lib Dem, that they must vote for the pro-choice rule. It’s just not realistic or justified.

Lee – I totally disagree with you. TOTALLY. If only you could spend one day as a woman (as you desperately seem to want to) and feel our lives for real…

Politicians are not required to bring their views to secular parliament thanks very much. Do me a favour. The abortion debate is ENTIRELY an argument where you look at the facts and figures and come to a rational conclusion, and it is this attempt to inform people that has formed the core of Abortion Rights’ work – it’s the attempt by the anti-choice lobby to make abortion a personal and/or emotive issue on the basis of inaccurate stats and made-up photos that is so wrong and misleading.

The facts are, for instance, that there hasn’t been a massive increase in the number of babies surviving at 24 weeks – yet, as Louise Hutchins said to me – you (she) finds herself giving television interviews where an interviewer simply insists that babies are being saved at earlier and earlier points of gestation.

Evan Harris and parliament’s science and technology committee carried out extensive research last year precisely to bring decent research on time limits to the argument, and to provide a coherent response to the irresponsible, inaccurate and plain wrong information being peddled by the likes of Dorries… don’t be a silly boy, Lee. A party is absolutely in a position to concern itself with becoming properly informed, and to set a line and policy accordingly. Brown was absolutely in a position to tell Kelly to go and do her happy-clapping somewhere else, and in her own time, and he damn well should have. You can most certainly ask your MP to inform him or herself, eliminate the personal, and make grown up decisions based on numbers and reason. Why – do you prefer yours to yahoo around the place, making shit up and voting on your behalf on the strength of a rush of blood to the head, a Dorries’ freakout, and misinformation?

That’s not ludicrous, Lee – that’s called using your brain. How about you try using yours, child?

MPs are (or should be) in Parliament to represent their constituents, not themselves. So this issue of free votes according to matters of an MP’s personal conscience seems wrong.

I’m inclined to agree with Kate:

A party is absolutely in a position to concern itself with becoming properly informed, and to set a line and policy accordingly.

And if its voters don’t like the policy, and feel it outweighs the other policies (economy, law and order and so on) they are welcome to vote for someone else next time.

MPs are (or should be) in Parliament to represent their constituents, not themselves. So this issue of free votes according to matters of an MP’s personal conscience seems wrong.

Hmm. I’m not sure that banning people with deep moral convictions from politics (which is what this measure would involve – whether I’m a Christian socialist who stands for Labour and gets told I have to support abortion, or a low-tax libertarian who stands for the Tories and gets told I have to oppose gay marriage) is a fantastically good idea.

MPs should be forced, at election time, to disclose their personal views on free-vote moral issues. Then, if you’re a pro-choice Tory in Nadine Dorries’ consitutency, you can choose whether to vote for her as a Tory, or whether your pro-choice principles are more important.

(I voted for Jeremy Corbyn last time round, mostly because he /didn’t/ support the Labour Party’s views on war or on detention without trial, and because his views on the ‘moral’ issues match my own. If the Labour candidate in my consitutuency had been an ultra-Blairite or an anti-choice Christian socialist, I’d have voted for someone else…)

“MPs should be forced, at election time, to disclose their personal views on free-vote moral issues. Then, if you’re a pro-choice Tory in Nadine Dorries’ consitutency, you can choose whether to vote for her as a Tory, or whether your pro-choice principles are more important.”

Agreed, this would ensure the electorate are at least knowing what they’re getting in to bed with.

“Lee – I totally disagree with you. TOTALLY. If only you could spend one day as a woman (as you desperately seem to want to) and feel our lives for real…”

Oh for fuck sake, shut up already. Can we have *one* debate about politics on here that even remotely touches on female politics without a feminist jumping out of their skin and accusing people of “not understanding enough”? It’s getting beyond tiring.

I don’t disagree with your stance on abortion, I am all supportive of it, but the practices of votes on such issues are an entirely separate issue, one not at all solely confined to the abortion debate. It was, until you decided to inject the above in to this thread, an interesting debate. I’m not getting in to another argument on here because you and others than will no doubt bandwagon hop are unable to extricate wider political discussion from your own personal fights.

MPs should be forced, at election time, to disclose their personal views on free-vote moral issues. Then, if you’re a pro-choice Tory in Nadine Dorries’ consitutency, you can choose whether to vote for her as a Tory, or whether your pro-choice principles are more important.

Agreed, that seems reasonable. Alternatively they should be encouraged to disclose their views, as opposed to being forced – the voter can then choose to vote for those who are open or those who play their cards close to their chests.

Lee,

Can we have *one* debate about politics on here that even remotely touches on female politics without a feminist jumping out of their skin and accusing people of “not understanding enough”?

Precedent suggests not, which is a shame.

Kate,

The abortion debate is ENTIRELY an argument where you look at the facts and figures and come to a rational conclusion,

I agree with you about facts and figures and made-up photos, but there is one ‘fact’ that seems instead to be a matter of opinion – and that is the question of whether or not the “clutch of pre-human jellied cells” (as Laurie put it) is deserving of the right to life. It is that opinion, the basis of the disagreement between the pro-choice and anti-abortion camps, which seems to be informed by ‘conscience’ / faith / whatever – you have your ‘rational judgement’, and those who are anti-abortion have theirs.

A slight reality check, if you please.

Kate said:

“Politicians are not required to bring their views to secular parliament thanks very much”

A secular parliament? That would be the secular parliament that’s opened by prayers every morning, where front benchers have bibles in the despatch boxes and where the bishops have seats as of right? The secular parliament where you have to swear loyalty to the head of the church of England?

Kate said:

“A party is absolutely in a position to concern itself with becoming properly informed, and to set a line and policy accordingly.”

A political party’s interests are based around the achievement and retention of power. Whether it makes sense or not, there are some issues where people will not accept compromise. Abortion is one of them. They are conscience votes not because anyone gives a fig about conscience – viz., whipping for the vote on the war on Iraq – but because it’s a useful excuse. That might be wrong and cowardly, but it is the way it is and I’m afraid it isn’t going to change any time soon. In terms of Catholics near the top of Government, Wales Secretary Paul Murphy (who did a lot to improve the situation in Northern Ireland) is a papal knight. Looking at other Labour people who voted to reduce to 16 weeks, we see six members of the government. No party is going to rend itself apart over an issue like this; it has the option of doing what you propose. However, many people, when asked to choose between God and mammon, will choose the former. A party cannot realistically use this nuclear option.

Similarly,

Brown was absolutely in a position to tell Kelly to go and do her happy-clapping somewhere else, and in her own time, and he damn well should have

How many others would have walked?

UKliberty said:

“MPs are (or should be) in Parliament to represent their constituents, not themselves. So this issue of free votes according to matters of an MP’s personal conscience seems wrong.”

Absolutely not. MPs are not proxies and their job is not to take the aggregate feeling in their constituency and vote accordingly. I wrote about this more here, but I’ll be short and use Burke’s words:

Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

The precedent you would set here would end up in rule by tabloid front page.

On the disclosing personal views thing,

Agreed, this would ensure the electorate are at least knowing what they’re getting in to bed with

I accept that. My concern is that it would be used as a rallying point by the anti side. Perhaps that’s a tactical argument rather than anything else, but my impression is that most people are moderately in favour of abortion but there is a sizeable minority that is very anti. Nevertheless, it’d be good if people actually said where they stood on things; I fear the whips are too strong.

xD.

“that is the question of whether or not the “clutch of pre-human jellied cells” (as Laurie put it) is deserving of the right to life.”

While this is true, and while this is certainly the bit where the abortion argument becomes a screaming match rather than a resolvable argument even between people who’re capable of rational debate, it’s not actually the basis for much of the debate as it’s argued (c.f. the current Christian/right-wing lies about survivability rates).

Jesus, Lee – wrong time of month?

Nope – I don’t think a bloke can suggest that the facts are abandoned in the abortion debate and that MPs can be encouraged to run amok without the facts, and not expect a feminist to jump on his head. I’m getting the feeling that you just can’t stand debate with females – inasmuch as soon as one of us girls dares to oppose you, you accuse us of trying to shut down debate on the grounds that you’ve got a penis (am assuming this last?).

Debate away, I say – just don’t get yr frilly old knickers in a twist when a girl dares to answer you robustly. Trying to shut us up by saying we’re trying to shut you up is sexist, if you follow.

Have to do some work now, but will get back on your back later in the day. In the meantime, try lying down with a cool cloth on your forehead and breathe through your nose for a bit. You’ll be fine.

PS – I wonder if you’d debate black politics with such aggression and presumption? I look at this sentence of yours:

‘Can we have *one* debate about politics on here that even remotely touches on female politics without a feminist jumping out of their skin and accusing people of “not understanding enough”?’

and wonder if you’d dare to to place the word ‘feminist’ with ‘African-Caribbean’ in that sentence. Your dismissiveness of feminists is telling, methinks. Are we a galloping misogynist, just quietly?

Maybe you ought to find a minority of your own to belong to, and then you wouldn’t have to get in such a knot when you feel you’ve been caught out borrowing the politics of others’.

Just a thought.

Peace & love.

Back soon.

“The precedent you would set here would end up in rule by tabloid front page.”

Precisely, but on the flip side MPs should be making decisions based on a wide range of things. the “facts and evidence” as Kate puts it, the mood of their constituency, their knowledge and expertise, and the opinions of other “experts”. If only the mood of their constituency were taken in to account they’d betray the process of representation…however to ignore it completely as well is an equal betrayal. Tough life being an MP, eh? 😉

“Nope – I don’t think a bloke can suggest that the facts are abandoned in the abortion debate and that MPs can be encouraged to run amok without the facts, and not expect a feminist to jump on his head. I’m getting the feeling that you just can’t stand debate with females – inasmuch as soon as one of us girls dares to oppose you, you accuse us of trying to shut down debate on the grounds that you’ve got a penis (am assuming this last?).”

It’s amazing that you still can’t stand back and see the absolute divide in reality and your own opinion, UKLiberty has already pointed out the issue with your stance…again. I don’t mind people opposing me, female, male or otherwise. I just find it highly ironic that for a group of people that hate being told what you do or don’t think, you’re all so very quick to assume an awful lot about people that you *percieve* to be taking an opposite stance at you so that you can make some kind of aggressive response. God forbid you just sit back and be civil in debate, as many of us manage to do on a daily basis?

“and wonder if you’d dare to to place the word ‘feminist’ with ‘African-Caribbean’ in that sentence. Your dismissiveness of feminists is telling, methinks. Are we a galloping misogynist, just quietly?”

If we had a population of black people on here acting in the way that you feminists do, then yes I would replace it in that sentence. Thankfully any black, homosexual, (insert other minority here) commentators on this site know how to act civilly and respectfully, so I’ve never had to. Come to think of it none of them have had to parade about their “difference” from others in the debate to make a point either.

How about I put it this way, you’re clearly not religious (my assumption here), perhaps if you could live your life in the shoes of an anti-abortion Christian for just one day maybe you’d understand how *they* feel…

Lee @ 38,

I’m becoming more and more cynical about the electorate, I’m afraid. I blame the media.

Kate & Lee,

GIve over, will you?

xD.

40. I get cynical too…however I find that the source of my cynicism is usually think tank biased polls that seem to distort the reporting of what people actually think. In a perfect world an MP would simply be reasonable, objective, and would take multiple views in to account before making a decision. I don’t see how we can ask for any more. Personally I’d rather all MPs were like this and all had free votes all the time. But then I generally don’t vote for a party at the general election (though is colours my decision of the person I vote for significantly), I vote for the right person for the job…as far as I feel anyhow. That’s where I imagine much of the disagreement over free votes in parliament is likely to come from here, a perception of exactly what an MP is meant to be to both the electorate and to the party they belong.

Kate, you are lying to yourself if you think it looks like Lee is the uncivil, unreasonable person in these discussions.

Dave Cole, I think you misunderstand me. I think Lee @ 38 has it about right. And I think Burke had it slightly wrong when he said,

Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole.

I think one of the problems with our ‘representative democracy’, disengagement from formal politics, is because voters have a sense of great distance between Parliament and their more local needs and desires. It seems to me Parliament is (or should be) a “congress of different interests” and a “deliberate assembly of one nation”. In other words an MP should be looking after the interests of his constituents in a local and national sense, compromising or battling as appropriate. Indeed, “Members have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole; and a special duty to their constituents” (Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament).

john b @ 36, fair point.

Dave Cole,

I’m becoming more and more cynical about the electorate, I’m afraid. I blame the media.

I’m becoming ever more cynical about MPs. I’ve been thinking recently about the purposes of (for example) Ministers, particularly since Gordon Brown’s point relating to Cameron’s lack of experience at the helm. What are their responsibilities, what qualifications are needed / desired, and so on? In the sense of, what makes a former lecturer and current affairs editor a suitable candidate for the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer? What makes a former head of economics a suitable candidate for the post of Home Secretary? Was Prescott given the job of Deputy Prime Minister (something that by the way doesn’t exist in our constitution) because he is competent or rather because he has strong links to the Labour left? Why was Alan Johnson, who left school at 15 and was only ever a union official before he became an MP, thought to be suitable to be a Minister at the Department of Trade and Industry, a Minister for Higher Education, a Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, a Secretary of State for Productivity, Energy and Industry, a Secretary of State for Education and Skills, or a Secretary of State for Health?

When people talk about the electorate in these discussions, it’s usually in a disparaging, patronising sense – a sense of, the electorate aren’t qualified, aren’t competent, are stupid, and decisions should be made on their behalf. It follows then that there should be some people making decisions on the electorate’s behalf – MPs. But it’s laughable, after watching debates or reading Hansard, to conclude that MPs are any better, other than their ability to get elected and progress up through the party ranks. Sure, some of them are very competent – others, such as Nadine Dorries are… not.

You wrote elsewhere,

MPs are elected to legislate and to scrutinise based not on the whim of the people, but based on easier access to more information, the time and will to process and use that information honestly, and to come to a reasoned decision.

It would be great if they did do that.

You idealist you.

ukliberty @42: actually, I don’t think she is, not entirely. Kate is being a bit harsh on Lee, yes, but Lee is using (probably unconsciously) a shedload of conversational terrorism techniques to wind her up, so that he can then accuse her of being strident and unreasonable.

He’s not the only person I’ve seen do it on here, but he is the most tenacious, and he’s also the reason why I avoid commenting on any thread about female issues once I see that he has commented.

Cowardly? Undoubtedly. Keeps me from getting needlessly upset? You betcha.

I’ll let you get back to it, shall I?

Kate,

I’m intrigued. why are the views of Lib Dems so important to you? Why are Jennie, Darrell and Aaron expected to provide a sense of what Lib Dems are thinking on the abortion issue? I think that you ask far too much of them.

However, if you need the opinions of a possibly unrepresentative group of Liberal Democrats (I’m not saying that they are, but they aren’t a significantly sized sample, are they?), why don’t I add mine – don’t worry, Jennie and Darrell will vouch for me.

I’m a liberal, and a Catholic. I have a pretty conservative set of personal values which I apply to myself, and a fairly liberal set of values I apply to others. I would rather see the number of abortions drop significantly, but there are far better ways of achieving that than the blunt weapon of tighter legislation.

The amendments which seek to make abortion more difficult are, for the most part, a fairly sneaky way to make abortion less accessible by bureaucratic means. I’ve never bought into the notion that women use abortion as a back-up method of contraception, or that it is a decision taken lightly, and that differentiates me from the forces of moral conservatism.

I’d rather make abortion less likely by improving sex education and encouraging the use of contraception by all, as well as providing better societal support for young, vulnerable women. Unfortunately, this is all so much harder than legislating to take away the rights of individuals to make their own choices (that’s sarcasm, for anyone who might not have noticed).

That’s my view. It has emerged from a range of influences, political, religious and social, and is no more or less than the perspective of an individual who happens to be a Liberal Democrat. Political parties are not monolitihic bodies where everyone agrees with every element of the platform, nor should they be. Given that, on a number of ‘free vote’ issues, such as the death penalty, homosexuality and abortion, politicians have tended to be more liberal than the population at large, I’m fairly comfortable with the notion that a free vote is an acceptable way of making the big moral decisions.

Finally, can I say how much I object to the suggestion that such an issue ‘separates the sheep from the lefties’. I’m not a ‘leftie’, I’m a liberal, and damned proud of it. And perhaps that just separates me from your leftie sheep. If you seriously want to build a coalition against those who wish to take away our freedoms, suggesting that we’re either for you or against you is hardly likely to build a winning one.

Not so much ‘liberal’ as ‘conspiracy’, and not a very good one either…

“He’s not the only person I’ve seen do it on here, but he is the most tenacious, and he’s also the reason why I avoid commenting on any thread about female issues once I see that he has commented.”

I take great pride in the fact that until this thread I have tried to point out the flaws in feminist argument as little as possible. I am always one for objective argument and I’m not afraid to change my views. For you to accuse me of trying to essentially bully people out of a debate is laughable given the language used by various parties. Supposedly I am in the wrong by pointing out there is a greater and more objective world out there to consider, yet feminists that then close ranks and start bullshit like “You don’t know what you’re talking about, male misogynist” is acceptable. I really can’t get my head around the mentality of this place sometimes.

Jenny, you get upset because like other feminists you are guilty of the biggest thing you hate, and that is people that impose views regardless of wider more objective thinking. Like I’ve said to Kate, it’s amazing how you people can come on here and try and bully me and others out of an argument because we lack the genitalia to converse on such a subject, while you have little to no understanding of the counter-argument to which you’re fighting. You’re acting ignorant and you need to take a step back and understand this, because ultimately you’re only damaging your own stance with people like me, who ultimately want to support you tooth and nail.

Lee,

I accept that it’s very late at night, and weariness may be setting in, but is your journey really necessary?

Jennie believes that your style of argument makes it less likely that she will engage. She has the right to think that, and if you feel that this makes the debate less ‘satisfying’ from your perspective, then you’ll just have to live with it. Her decision gives you no right to bandy around words like ignorant as a means to try and draw her into an argument that she doesn’t wish to embroil herself in.

Perhaps if you learned to really respect the right of others to hold a stance that displeases you, rather than just talking a good game, it might make for more inclusive dialogue.

Time for bed, said Zebedee…

I don’t know, I’m just generally pissed off Mark. I come on here to debate real issues, and every time that an issue comes up around abortion or any other feminist issue suddenly men are not allowed to discuss it unless they are agreeing with flowers.

Maybe it’s just a straw the broke the camels back moment, but I had a lot of respect for Kate, and also for Jennie, so for them to talk this much shit is personally disappointing. Ignorant, however, is entirely the appropriate word…and if feminists on here are going to continue to try to silence objective debate by using the “you’re not a woman” card then it’s about time that we started discussing the ignorance of the feminists that debate on here, by their own standards.

oh, btw…

“Perhaps if you learned to really respect the right of others to hold a stance that displeases you, rather than just talking a good game, it might make for more inclusive dialogue.”

This just makes me piss my pants given the recent history on here. *I* should learn to respect that others hold a view that displeases me? Don’t make me laugh my friend. There are some on here that should learn to respect that others hold a view that is ENTIRELY IN LINE with what they believe but wish to have a full and frank debate, but they don’t get criticised by more than the severe minority. Interesting really.

Lee, I know you refuse to see that it’s not what you are saying, but the way you are saying it that upsets people; that’s your prerogative. But it’s MY prerogative to refuse to engage with it any further.

If you found it in the slightest way possible to argue without being insulting, patronising, and hurtful, then perhaps I would change my mind, but as things stand, I really don’t see the point in opening myself up for further broadsides. You can find that as unsatisfying and ignorant as you like.

Mark: thanks.

* hug *

“I take great pride in the fact that until this thread I have tried to point out the flaws in feminist argument as little as possible”

*snort*

You seem to make it one of your prime pasttimes.

“tis in the free vote arena of subjects like abortion rights that we tend to discover who is really liberal and left, and who really isn’t.”

If ‘liberal’ and ‘left’ were interchangable terms then this might be a reasonable question, but they aren’t, so it isn’t surprising that this discussion has dissolved into a slanging match.

Rather than perverting the discourse by arguing about ‘abortion rights’ we’d be better served by examining under which circumstances and conditions it is right or wrong. In this I think the amendments propose a serious debate about the process by which we decide the acceptable limits of individual freedom.

There are plenty of extreme examples which could be identified as cases where individuals act against their own interests, just as there are examples of authorities acting without accountability – so, how many medical opinions are required to ensure the interests of mother and potential child are balanced fairly and how we measure and weigh this balance of competing interests are fundamentally PRACTICAL questions and are best served by free votes.

The removal of organised ideological theorising from such decisions prevents harmful dogmas from being imposed and spreading like a cancer.

In this I think any uncritical use of ideological terms (such as ‘feminism’) is actually damaging to our ability to reach satisfactory conclusions.

All right, guys – lots to respond here and I’ll have to do most of it tonight coz I’m here at the day job. A few points to be going on with, though:

Lee – I think the person who said above that you seem very quick to accuse a woman of feminism so that you can put yourself in a position to criticise that woman as a feminist, rather than a woman, got a hole in one, if I can put it that way. When I read you in threads, I always get the feeling that you don’t mind talking to women until such time as they disagree with you, which is the point at which they stop being women and start becoming feminists in your mind – and as feminists, become acceptable targets in your view. Sure, I’m a feminist, but in my mind women generally are. I don’t see a difference between being a woman and being a feminist. It’s interesting to me that you see such a divide. You are amazingly defensive on women’s issues. Nobody’s trying to shut you up – I’m genuinely interested in all views and see this as an excellent forum to debate them. My own views are strong, and I absolutely accept that everyone else’s are, too. I simply disagree with you on the notion of allowing for the emotive aspect of abortion in parliamentary vote. You’re entitled to your view to the contrary, though – so why do you feel that you’re being silenced? What is it in a strong response from a woman that so angers you? You have the same response to Laurie. It’s interesting.

To the person who asked why I’ve asked the Lib Dems to comment on this thread – to cut a very long story short, I indicated on one of Jennie’s stories about a week ago that I was very disilusioned with the Labour party (I’ve been a long time Labour voter) and was looking at the Lib Dems as a real alternative (Jennie’s story was about the Lib Dem presidency, which started things off).

I made the point, though, that I was finding it hard to pinpoint where the Lib Dems sat on a number of issues. Lib Dem members on this site were very responsive – Darrell even bothered to write a further post, so that we could discuss issues like Lib Dem tax policy in more detail – and did a lot of expanding on policy for myself and other readers. I appreciated the time taken by people like Jennie and Darrell and Matt to make those contributions and found those conversations useful.

I was as interested in the Lib Dem take on abortion law, because it is an area of legislation that I find very important. This isn’t about making the Lib Dems justify themselves, or defend I position I don’t like – indeed the Lib Dem Evan Harris is probably THE leading light in liberal abortion thought here at the moment, and, as I said in an earlier comment here, I have great respect for him as a campaigner and thinker on the topic. I’ve got another article coming up on outsourcing and the privatisation of public services, and I’d be interested in Lib Dem views on that as well – not with a view to putting the boot into them or somehow making them justify themselves, but just to see where they are. I may not like where they are – I’m just interested to know. Tory and Labour readers will also be welcome to comment – I’m just not really considering either as voting options at the moment.

Going now, but will come back to some of the points raised by others this evening. Cheers, Kate.

Spose I shouldn’t pick it all up again, but I said I would, and a few things jumped out:

Lee:

‘Maybe it’s just a straw the broke the camels back moment, but I had a lot of respect for Kate, and also for Jennie, so for them to talk this much shit is personally disappointing.’

Well – that might be because you and I have never had a dialogue through comments before that I can remember. Maybe you had a lot of respect for me because you’d never locked horns with me before. Is that another way of saying that a woman is great until she opens her mouth?

I JEST.

KIND OF.

Anway – what shit are you referring to, brother? I simply responded strongly to your observation that any abortion vote would necessarily be emotive, because free votes are only used on issues where conscience is a big part of the picture. That was a fair point for you to make – I simply disagreed with it.

I’m with Dave Cole when he says that he takes a rather more cynical view of free voting, and sees a free vote really as a free pass to anyone who doesn’t want to show themselves on a particular issue. Next thing, though, you’re writing lines like ‘can’t the fuck a man express himself,’ or something similar. You also seem to use the term ‘feminist’ in a rather negative sense – as in ‘these feminists are trying to stop me.’ How about you stop thinking of me as a feminist and just think about me as a woman? Nobody’s trying to stop you saying anything – go for your life, I say. I’ve never deleted a comment or tried to shut down a debate in my life. Fill your boots, mate.

Anyway – to get past all this, why don’t you just pretend I’m a man? Plenty of people have asked if I’ve got testicles, anyway, so I really don’t mind if you start calling me Pete, or whatever. I’m quite serious, tbh – I’d be interested to know if that makes you feel less cornered. It doesn’t seem to be the strength of the observation that causes you a problem – rather, the fact that someone who describes themselves as a feminist is making that observation.

Anway – Dave Cole is also right when he says it’s time for you and I to move on, so let’s finish up the fight here. You’ve got my email address, so pick it up there if you want. Everyone else is getting bored with this.

Thomas says:
‘Rather than perverting the discourse by arguing about ‘abortion rights’ we’d be better served by examining under which circumstances and conditions it is right or wrong. In this I think the amendments propose a serious debate about the process by which we decide the acceptable limits of individual freedom.’

Interesting statement, Thomas, my man – I’m not so interested in what’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. This is mainly because there’ll never be agreement on what is right and wrong while the pro-choice lobby believes that what is right is what is right for a woman, and the anti-choice lobby’s whole thesis has been to turn attention from women and put the emphasis on what is right for the child. That being the case, I’d like us to stick to the numbers – ie, that women die in their thousands in countries where there is no legal abortion, that there is no evidence at all that would support a reduction in the time limit, here, etc. Tis in the numbers we find the most sense.

I’d be interested to know how you think, though, that these latest amendments – imposing a cooling-off period, pushing anti-abortion literature at women – could possibly lead to a serious debate about the process by which we decide the acceptable limits of individual freedom. No serious debate about freedom ever took place within such confines. Those amendments, by their very nature, represent a rather patronising limiting of free choice. One can almost feel one’s GP patting one on one’s head and saying – ‘there, there, dear – how about you read this nice book about babies…’

I mean – come on, guys. Women can make their own choices – they read, they write, they develop their own views on abortion – they don’t need to be handed some girly little pamphlet at the 11th hour with a picture of a lovely baby on it, or whatever. Come on. You need to start thinking of us as people similar to yourselves – strong minded, informed, and adult. We form our own views. We find being patronised just as awful as men do.

“I’m with Dave Cole when he says that he takes a rather more cynical view of free voting, and sees a free vote really as a free pass to anyone who doesn’t want to show themselves on a particular issue.”

And I’m completely against Dave Cole on this one. A free vote is a way to examine the fine print of the choices on offer and therefore enables every voter to make a more accurate statement of their views rather than to be forced to say things they don’t fully agree with. On issues of such emotive power, it is just not good enough that laws are formed by hide-bound generalist party views.

Kate, I think you need to go back and reread the quote of mine you cited. You are talking all theory while I was trying to return us to practicalities: I did not talk about WHAT is right and wrong, but WHEN it is – eg is a termination at 39 weeks acceptable, if there 20 medical opinions in favour? Are involuntary terminations ever acceptable?

No serious debate, let alone one on the acceptable limits of individual freedom, was ever successfully held in a vacuum, so how you expect women to be able to accurately make up their own minds without giving them the resources to create informed consent I don’t know – if it is a choice between being patronised or neglected it’s a no-brainer to switch-on your brain before you make your mind up.

I also feel it is a bit off to say that the side you are politically opposed to shouldn’t recieve equal airing in order to give a fair hearing. I can almost hear you patting a patient on the head saying “rest assured, comrade sister, by dawn we’ll have finished machine-gunning the vile dogs which did this evil thing to you. So you can be free to do it all again, if that’s your will.”

I agree that we should all form our own views, but this is best done by being able to recieve a fully-rounded set of different perspectives. Just as I think your political view would be more convincing were you able to consider all alternative standpoints than your own.

May I ask what safeguards and support you propose for the individuals who are faced with decisions of life and death like this? Or do you really think an abortion should be available in an off-the-shelf home-pack from a supermarket?

Yo Thomas,

Good points, which deserve a response. Don’t agree with you, but you deserve a response. Got a few meetings this morning, but will be back with you.

I would start off by pulling you up on this one, though:

‘how you expect women to be able to accurately make up their own minds without giving them the resources to create informed consent I don’t know – if it is a choice between being patronised or neglected it’s a no-brainer to switch-on your brain before you make your mind up.’

What makes you think women can’t inform themselves? There’s something so patronising in this – it’s as though you’re saying that if someone doesn’t tell women what to think and/or actively hands them information, they’ll never work it out for themselves or inform themselves. You must stop seeing us as vessels.

And anyway – what sort of information would this ‘well rounded’ information be? I can’t picture it. If you go to your GPs’ requesting an abortion atm, they give you factual information about the procedure – how long it takes, what it involves, what aftercare is all about – and how to access it. What would they give you for the well-rounded picture you refer to – a couple of articles about single mothers being forced to work for benefits and a nursing bra catalogue? I don’t know exactly what sort of literature you have in mind.

Anyway – back soon. Meanwhile, I think you need to give me a few points for getting over the fact that you called me tweedy earlier in the week. That was rought, man. I mean – TWEEDY.

“What makes you think women can’t inform themselves?”

Isn’t all information mediated and filtered? It just depends on whether this unfairly biases the outcome or not.

To give an example the BBC is perpetually under attack from all sides for not providing accurate information/not providing full information/not providing correct weightings to the information it provides (and therefore providing no/no helpful conclusions).

I accept that it is a difficult job to find the correct balance, but not to try leaves you open to attack from your opponents. If the best you can do is to not be unfair, then this is far better than trying and failing to be fair.

As for the tweed/dyed hair reference, I picture you as a Vivienne Westwood figure of incongruity, which I kinda like (the anarchist perversely announced her support for the Conservatives, now that’s hilariously subversive!). If it’s done well the effect can be far more funky, you just gotta keep the twinkle in your eye while you do it.

Hey man – I’m twinkling for England now… in truth, I kind of look like Scolari with heaps of hair, but the Viv thing has potential…

Anyway…

Re: information for women re: abortion – isn’t that what I’ve been arguing? (can hardly remember now – this has been going on for days and I’ve been in and out of consciousness for a lot of it).

My whole person has been yearning for people to understand that the basic mission of Abortion Rights is to make sure that people (MPs) have the latest data on the realities of abortion (or no abortion) for women, and that they understand that the likes of Dorries peddle utter crap. There is no scientific evidence, for example, that babies are surviving at 24 weeks in any greater numbers than they were years ago. The hand of hope photo is rot – compelling, I grant you, but rot. None of this would matter, I guess, except that MPs trot around parliament telling each other that babies survive at 24 weeks, etc, when in fact they don’t. Sticking to the facts would help enormously. That’s what I’ve been saying.

At least – I think that’s what I’ve been saying. I got all caught up calling Lee a halfwit in the middle there – not a bad way to kill the middle of the week, I have to say, but kind of off piste.

Back to work now.

I’ll be back.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. davecole.org » blog » Blog Archive » Abortion… again…

    […] LC work on Nadine Dorries hypocrisy makes news Sins of Omission – delusions of the anti choice lobby Gearing up for report stage of Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill LC complaint against Nadine Dorries upheld Saving women’s lives with Sarah […]





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.