Conservative MPs come out against Nadine Dorries’ plans


10:40 am - August 31st 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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The Conservative MP Nadine Dorries likes to pretend she has lots of support within her party and across the country for her plans to restrict abortion rights.

Yesterday, she wrote a blog-post attacking me and asserting that Dr Evan Harris lost his Libdem seat in 2010 because of his pro-choice views.

But support for Nadine Dorries’ plans is flaky, even within the Conservative party. And yet most of the media has completely ignored this part of the story while allowing her to breathlessly repeat falsehoods about abortion and orgs such as BPAS.

Earlier this week the Financial Times quoted one anonymous Tory MP saying:

The majority of women looking for an abortion are already clear that is what they want when they approach a clinic. We have to be careful not to go down the US-type model of allowing politicians who have a very different agenda to press their case.

This [debate] is about an individual who brought an amendment, whose agenda is to reduce abortions dressing it up as counselling. It is disingenuous.

Another Tory MP, Sarah Wollaston, told the FT:

If there is concern about this we should consult to see if there is a problem or if there isn’t. I don’t want to see two days’ debate about a bill being derailed into a discussion on the very emotive topic of terminations.

Other Conservative MPs have also replied to constituents saying they will be voting against the amendments, according to emails passed on to me.

Simon Reevell MP wrote to one constituent to say: “I agree with you and will not be supporting these amendments in the House of Commons.”

Conservative MP Steve Brine – more involved with the NHS bill – told @AAEmmerson:

As I understand it, NHS provision of terminations has all but stopped, so almost all terminations are done by charitable organisations, by far the main one being BPAS. They provide a counselling service but most women who turn up at their door because they have already made their minds up by having discussions with their doctors or friends. They are told the pro’s and con’s (including the risk of depression etc) and encouraged to consider other options but then most go ahead with the procedure. Most of my constituents accessing BPAS would currently goto Basingstoke which is our nearest clinic.

BPAS is always going to be vulnerable to the charge of vested interest but as a charity they have to be squeaky clean in providing information and access to counselling. I do not believe patients are processed in order to make a profit (as non profit making this should not be an issue.) Indeed I have read the BPAS website extensively and they are very clear in their ‘About’ section under their values and governance pages how they are constituted.

Personally, I would be apprehensive about putting a compulsory ‘independent’ intermediate step in.

He goes on to say that if changes were needed, they should be made through secondary legislation rather than these amendments.

Most importantly – last week Niki Molnar, chair of the Conservative Women’s Organisation – called on “every constituent” to contact their MPs and urge them to vote against the amendments.

Let me just repeat that – the chair of the Conservative Women’s Organisation is against the amendments by Dorries and Field. Read her blog-post here.

I hope Ms Molnar will be contacting Tory MPs herself too and referring them to the post.

Please contact your MP through this Abortion Rights page. It really does have an impact!

Previous posts in this series
Why Nadine Dorries & Frank Field are being dishonest on their abortion proposals
How the abortion amendments pose a health risk to women

* * * * * * * * * * * *

UPDATE 1
Conservative MP Jane Ellison is also not supporting Dorries (thanks to Samantha):

The amendment calls for more independent support to be given to women seeking abortion. In May, the Department of Health commissioned a multi-profession review of abortion and mental health, led by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych). The findings of the review were subjected to a 12-week consultation, which closed on 29 June. I understand that submissions to the consultation are currently being reviewed, and the Government expects the relevant sections of this review to be incorporated into the final version of the abortion guidelines.

The Secretary of State for Health has a responsibility to approve private sector clinics for the purpose of treatment for termination of pregnancy. The standards required by the Secretary of State, known as the ‘Procedures for the Approval of Independent Sector Places for the Termination of Pregnancy’, will be updated later this year, following the consultation process. The update of procedures will take account of both the induced abortion guideline and the RCPsych document covering abortion and mental health. This will help the Government decide if the current guidance given to women seeking abortions is sufficient, and will highlight any areas that require amending.

I do understand the concerns that some people express about the advice given to women facing the difficult decision about abortion, and was pleased to attend the adjournment debate led by Nadine Dorries last year, which gave MPs the opportunity to explore this subject in some detail. I listened carefully to the arguments put forward on all sides of the issue, although ultimately I was not convinced by the case put forward by Ms Dorries that the amendment was necessary and I will, therefore, not be supporting it.

UPDATE 2
Tory MP Michael Ellis of Northampton North will also vote against the amendments (thanks @vaingloria54)

If your Tory MP has got back to you saying they won’t support Dorries on this amendment, please let me know.

UPDATE 3
The entire Tory front-bench has now reportedly u-turned on this issue.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Health ,Westminster

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Reader comments


Unfortunately, Steve Brine’s seemingly measured tone is undermined by his Hampshire Chronicle column for August, to which he links. He says he is “not 100% settled on this issue”, and reading the reactionary, Shires-audience-pleasing drivel in his column makes me fear he might just decide to back it anyway. His correspondence thus far has been quite impressive, and he’s shown himself to be a good constituency MP but the language used when writing for a broader audience suggests he is remarkably duplicitous. But then, he does have a background in broadcast media…

@Mr Northice

He actually does go on to say that later on in the email, not that i’m trying to excuse Mr Brine or anything.

How many unwanted children do we want in our society?

Look at adoption and the cost of fostering…we haven’t got IVF right for those who want children… and your unintended consequences of this sort of regressive legal action does not do you or your political party any good, when working within the restrains of a liberal democratic ideology…

We as an non-religious… forward thinking… progressive . Liberal democratic population do not need the unwanted or warranted input by an unelected government

4. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

How many unwanted children do we want in our society?

As a deliberately manufactured pretext to wibble on about broken Britain and the welfare bill?

As many as possible, obviously.

The evidence certainly supports the theory that Dr Evan Harris lost his seat as a result of his crusading zeal against religion and the unborn child in particular. His fault for setting himself up as a poster boy for some of the more extreme elements.

“The evidence certainly supports the theory that Dr Evan Harris lost his seat as a result of his crusading zeal against religion and the unborn child in particular. His fault for setting himself up as a poster boy for some of the more extreme elements.”

Yeah, that’s got to be it. Nothing to do with a campaign of lies by religious conservative fanatics who believe whatever they do God is on their side.

Steve Brine claims he’s undecided, but he’s repeating a lot of what we’re saying too.

I see other Tory MPs against it include David Cameron.

I see Mad Nads has just blogged the Grauniad story. It’s a classic. She’s not a happy bunny at all.

10. douglas clark

Ho hum,

I just lurve this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRdrBCamno0

Doubt the Nadine does!

11. ex-Labour voter

Dr Evan Harris probably lost his seat because too many of his activists went next door to Oxford East. Similar stupidity by the Liberal Democrats cost them Rochdale.

In 1997, Portillo might have held on if he had not sent many of his activists to campaign in a neighbouring constituency.
These kind of tactical blunders seem to persist in political campaigns.

Conservatives in valuing personal freedom over religious nutjobbery (is that a word?) shock!

Oh hang on – they’ve been claiming to be about that for a while, so no real surprise that the ‘religious right’ is not getting very far with this particular idiocy (for those who think the Conservatives are the same as the Republicans, all I can say is get a grip – how many TV evangelists are there in the UK?).

I presume that the MPs in question have then been satisfied there is no potential conflict of interest here (which is the technical question) or are just not going to play along with those trying to limit abortion by backdoor means. A good day for liberals of all stripes then.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  92. Crest of the wave

    Tory MPs speak out against Dorries
    http://t.co/pUUpcRp
    And Niki Molnar, Chair of CWO urges vote against the 3 Amendments
    http://t.co/3xmFFuQ

  93. Crest of the wave

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    And Niki Molnar, Chair of CWO urges vote against the 3 Amendments
    http://t.co/3xmFFuQ

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    And Niki Molnar, Chair of CWO urges vote against the 3 Amendments
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  97. Lucy Brown

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    And Niki Molnar, Chair of CWO urges vote against the 3 Amendments
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  110. Owen Blacker

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  111. Owen Blacker

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  112. Kate!

    Tory MPs speak out against Dorries
    http://t.co/pUUpcRp
    And Niki Molnar, Chair of CWO urges vote against the 3 Amendments
    http://t.co/3xmFFuQ

  113. I

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  114. ?American?Briton?

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    Tory MPs and orgs come out against Nadine Dorries’ plans. She doesn't have unanimous support http://t.co/KaxQTve

  141. Politics in Brum

    Good. http://t.co/tpgxSMq

  142. Jim Nugent

    Conservative MPs come out against Nadine Dorries’ plans http://t.co/zXypImM

  143. sunny hundal

    Conservative MP Jane Ellison (Battersea) is also NOT supporting Dorries & Field amendments http://t.co/OWVpO92 (see update)

  144. Kim Blake

    Conservative MP Jane Ellison (Battersea) is also NOT supporting Dorries & Field amendments http://t.co/OWVpO92 (see update)

  145. Shaun C Green

    Tory MPs and the Chair of Conservative Women's Organisation also against Dorries' restriction of abortion rights: http://t.co/3C7VuWa

  146. Michael Bater

    Conservative MPs come out against Nadine Dorries’ plans | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/hEKslOL via @libcon

  147. Tim Ireland

    Conservative MP Jane Ellison (Battersea) is also NOT supporting Dorries & Field amendments http://t.co/OWVpO92 (see update)

  148. Lauren

    Tory MPs and the Chair of Conservative Women's Organisation also against Dorries' restriction of abortion rights: http://t.co/3C7VuWa

  149. annaarrowsmith

    RT @sunny_hundal: Conservative MP Jane Ellison (Battersea) is also NOT supporting Dorries & Field amendments http://t.co/LwZsx8L

  150. Paul Trembath

    Conservative MP Jane Ellison (Battersea) is also NOT supporting Dorries & Field amendments http://t.co/OWVpO92 (see update)

  151. Sue Thomas

    Conservative MPs come out against Nadine Dorries’ plans | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/hEKslOL via @libcon

  152. tracy e

    Conservative MP Jane Ellison (Battersea) is also NOT supporting Dorries & Field amendments http://t.co/OWVpO92 (see update)

  153. Stuart

    RT @sunny_hundal: Conservative MP Jane Ellison (Battersea) is also NOT supporting Dorries & Field amendments http://t.co/LwZsx8L

  154. janet ewan

    Conservative MP Jane Ellison (Battersea) is also NOT supporting Dorries & Field amendments http://t.co/OWVpO92 (see update)

  155. nobby-Lobby

    Conservative MP Jane Ellison (Battersea) is also NOT supporting Dorries & Field amendments http://t.co/OWVpO92 (see update)

  156. Roaring

    Conservative MPs come out against Nadine Dorries’ plans | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/eYd7PnT via @libcon

  157. Star Hart

    Conservative MP Jane Ellison (Battersea) is also NOT supporting Dorries & Field amendments http://t.co/OWVpO92 (see update)

  158. Kath Richardson

    Conservative MPs come out against Nadine Dorries’ plans http://t.co/zXypImM

  159. sunny hundal

    Another: Tory MP Michael Ellis of Northampton North also against Dorries/Field proposals http://t.co/OWVpO92 (via @vaingloria54)

  160. Tim Phillips-White

    Another: Tory MP Michael Ellis of Northampton North also against Dorries/Field proposals http://t.co/OWVpO92 (via @vaingloria54)

  161. Lee Hyde

    Another: Tory MP Michael Ellis of Northampton North also against Dorries/Field proposals http://t.co/OWVpO92 (via @vaingloria54)

  162. Labour Voter

    Conservative MPs come out against Nadine Dorries’ plans | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/p0fyYXn via @libcon

  163. Sam Connacher

    Conservative MPs come out against Nadine Dorries’ plans | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/6orjLoZ via @libcon

  164. Mike Katz

    Tory MPs come out against Dorries’ plans http://t.co/hERgZrG via @libcon < Notable that chair of Tory Women's org is anti the amendments

  165. Jonathan Simpson

    Tory MPs come out against Dorries’ plans http://t.co/hERgZrG via @libcon < Notable that chair of Tory Women's org is anti the amendments

  166. sunny hundal

    From earlier: Numerous Conservative MPs also come out against Dorries/Field’s abortion plans http://t.co/OWVpO92

  167. Chris Paul

    From earlier: Numerous Conservative MPs also come out against Dorries/Field’s abortion plans http://t.co/OWVpO92

  168. Patrick Harvie

    From earlier: Numerous Conservative MPs also come out against Dorries/Field’s abortion plans http://t.co/OWVpO92

  169. House Of Twits

    RT @sunny_hundal From earlier: Numerous Conservative MPs also come out against Dorries/Field’s abortion plans http://t.co/TH26tZe

  170. The Le May

    From earlier: Numerous Conservative MPs also come out against Dorries/Field’s abortion plans http://t.co/OWVpO92

  171. Rob Wannerton

    From earlier: Numerous Conservative MPs also come out against Dorries/Field’s abortion plans http://t.co/OWVpO92

  172. David Poole

    From earlier: Numerous Conservative MPs also come out against Dorries/Field’s abortion plans http://t.co/OWVpO92

  173. Walaa Idris

    @sunny_hundal you sound surprised that not all Tories blindly backed the Dorries/Field's abortion plans http://t.co/GuBsaIu

  174. BrikSchittHause

    From earlier: Numerous Conservative MPs also come out against Dorries/Field’s abortion plans http://t.co/OWVpO92

  175. Leena Mehta

    Conservative MPs come out against Nadine Dorries’ plans | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/q7SItKw via @libcon

  176. Reverend S. Infidel

    #Tory MPs come out against Nadine #Dorries’ plans | LibConsp | http://t.co/J7IYDDo #WomensRights #abortion #prochoice is #prolife

  177. Apples and oranges « serialdeviant.org(y)

    [...] that the Tories aren’t very much like the conservative Republicans in the US: they (mostly) support a woman’s right to choose. Via the New [...]

  178. Tessa Frost

    From earlier: Numerous Conservative MPs also come out against Dorries/Field’s abortion plans http://t.co/OWVpO92

  179. EXCL: Health minister admits BPAS a “reputable org” | Liberal Conspiracy

    [...] to the amendments now runs across all parties. Several Conservative MPs have come out against them in letters to [...]

  180. Jane Ayres

    RT @NatSecSoc Conservative MPs come out against Nadine Dorries’ plans http://t.co/hKwuauQ < but not mine. Won't stick neck out.

  181. Cameron u-turns on abortion, Cable unloads on the banks and the media wakes up to Nick Clegg: round up of political blogs for 27 August – 2 September | British Politics and Policy at LSE

    [...] that 92 per cent of MPs would support the measure. Liberal Conspiracy’s Sunny Hundal charts a list of Conservative MPs who disagree with Dorries’s proposals, and The Staggers writes that ‘when in doubt, u-turn’, as Cameron [...]

  182. Andrew Ducker

    Conservative MPs come out against Nadine Dorries’ plans for abortion providers http://t.co/0vkiiAI

  183. When the Tories Went Too Far: The Abortion Amendment » Global Activist Network

    [...] for themselves. I urge every constituent to contact your MP to get your voice heard.’  Other Tory MPs have publically spoken out against the [...]

  184. ALLAN MADELEY

    Conservative MPs come out against Nadine Dorries’ plans | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/3kunPXub via @libcon





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