Nadine Dorries Granted Debate On Abortion Limit


12:01 am - October 25th 2012

by Sarah McAlpine    


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Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has been granted a 90 minute debate on reducing the abortion limit from 24 to 20 weeks.

The news comes on the same day that feminist activists marched on Parliament calling for women’s needs and concerns to be more central to government policymaking- including more parliamentary support for abortion rights. Thirteen out of the current sixteen conservative members of cabinet voted for a reduction in the upper limit when the issue was last debated in Parliament in 2008.

Health Minister Jeremy Hunt caused outrage earlier this month when he voiced support for halving the abortion limit to twelve weeks. Equalities Minister Maria Miller, Theresa May and David Cameron have all said that they would support a small reduction to the limit- although Cameron insisted at the time that there were no plans for a change in legislation.

Figures released earlier this week by the Department of Health have shown a consistent year-on-year reduction in the number of abortions taking place after thirteen weeks. In 2011 16,755 abortions were performed after 13 weeks- down from 18,990 in 2008. Labour MP Diane Abbott, who supports the current 24 week limit, said “It’s becoming clear that Jeremy Hunt’s wild attack on British women’s right to choose was not based on the figures, the medical evidence, or on any real understanding of women’s lives,”

“Unfortunately, what Jeremy Hunt has done is unlock the door to the right-wing of the Tory party to begin a campaign in parliament to reduce the time limits, and also offer a supporting hand to anti-choice campaigners who protest, shout, and host vigils outside clinics, as women enter.”

Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, argued if Dorries were “pro-woman” she ought to focus on access to contraception, improving access to early abortion and protesting cuts to midwives.

“There is no need to revisit this issue: but the tragedy is that the energy spent discussing it detracts time and attention from genuine problems in women’s reproductive healthcare.”

The debate will take place on the 31st October.

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About the author
Sarah McAlpine is a News Editor at Liberal Conspiracy, and volunteer Co-Editor at www.womensviewsonnews.org. Raging Feminist. She likes Politics, Smashing Patriarchy & Animal Videos - though not necessarily in that order.
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Story Filed Under: Conservative Party ,Equality ,Feminism ,Health ,News ,Sex equality ,top ,Westminster

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Reader comments


The fetus fetishists never give up. However once the fetus comes out of the womb they don’t give a fuck about it. Hence why in conservative red states where abortion is difficult to obtain, infant mortality rates are some of the highest in the western world. Funny you never hear a squeak from them about that. Pro life? My arse.

Just the usual patriarchal clap trap from right wing knuckle draggers. Oh and in some states now if a woman is made pregnant by rape the law gives rights to the rapist. The woman must take the baby to the rapist even if he is in prison.

These people pathological hate and fear woman, and female sexuality. They are terrified by it. Dorres hates her own sex with a loathing.

2. Fond McCagan

Dorres sees herself as the leader of a British version of the Tea Party and it is of course this Coalition that is intent on driving women back to the hearth and dependence on their husband’s wages to massage the unemployment figures. Women are taking the economic brunt of the recession and Dorres is making sure they take the ideological and moral brunt too.

3. James from Durham

Sally

Is that actually true – I mean about the rapists getting paternal rights? Which states? It sounds extraordinary.

“Unfortunately, what Jeremy Hunt has done is unlock the door to the right-wing of the Tory party to begin a campaign in parliament to reduce the time limits, and also offer a supporting hand to anti-choice campaigners who protest, shout, and host vigils outside clinics, as women enter.”

Isn’t it just so appalling? The legislature will discuss what the law should be.

Can’t think what’s got into them at all: who on earth gave them the right to do that sort of thing?

6. Chaise Guevara

Murphy’s quote is extremely vacuous, basically an ad hom followed by that old “we like the status quo so debate is unnecessary” crap the pro-hunting lobby used to pull.

Instead of wasting a couple of paragraphs on that, it would have been more honest to at least explain the reasoning behind the proposals: that the limit was originally set at viability, and viability has changed as science marches on: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/oct/03/abortion-limit-reduction-maria-miller

That doesn’t mean that Dorries is right, because we also have to take into account the fact that cutting the limit gives women less time to make an important decision. But that’s the point we should be debating – should we stick with viability as the marker and thus change the limit, or would the cost of this to women be too high?

Last time this came up in parliament, the actual issue was sidelined in favour of lifers and choicers rehashing the overall abortion debate yet again. No doubt we’ll see the same thing this time, if articles like this are anything to go by.

Instead of wasting a couple of paragraphs on that, it would have been more honest to at least explain the reasoning behind the proposals: that the limit was originally set at viability, and viability has changed as science marches on:

Well it would were it not for the fact that Miller was talking out of her hat in the first place – http://www.ministryoftruth.me.uk/2012/10/09/maria-miller-abortion-and-common-sense/

Let’s also not forget that what Dorries has got here is a Westminster Hall debate, which means that it’ll likely be attended by five MPs and a dog, if Blunkett turns up.

8. Chaise Guevara

@ 7 Unity

That’s exceptionally long, and the only thing I could see skimming it that was relevant was that viability is considerably higher at 24 weeks than at 23 weeks or lower – which is hardly the same as her “talking out of her hat”.

I’m not sure what you mean by “Well it would be”. I’m saying the claim about viability would need to be dicussed. Proving said claim to be bollocks would form a pretty critical part of that discussion, no?

There’s definately a strong argument for charging for abortions, it’s really just like breast implants or a nose job and shouldn’t really be taken out of general taxation. It’s in the same vein as obesity or smoking – a lifestyle choice that should be discouraged.

Chaise:

Miller was talking out of her hat in the sense she claims that its only a matter of common sense that the evidence on foetal viability justifies a reduction in the current upper limit for elective abortions.

This is anything but the case, which is what the detail of that article is about. The viability argument is neither as simple nor as obvious as its proponents suggest and yet Miller seems to think that its enough just to assert that its all just common sense without bothering to engage in any kind of meaningful debate.

11. Robin Levett

@Chaise:

Or, to put it differently; Maria Miller was wrong – or so the doctors and medical scientists say – in claiming that there is any evidence that advances in medical technology have led to any significant reduction in the age at which fetuses become viable.

It is worth remembering that we can’t simply transpose the debate from the States to here. In the US the evidence led in Roe v Wade led the Supreme Court to opine that viability begins at 28 weeks; and just under a third of US states either have no set limit, or set the limit at 28 weeks. In those states, there is a viability argument.

In England, Wales and Scotland we have set the limit at 24 weeks since 1967.

12. Chaise Guevara

@ 22 Robin + Unity

Do you guys have the relevant figures, by any chance? Basically we’d want viability at 20 weeks today vs viability at 24 weeks whenever the law was first passed.

Chaise:

The 1967 Act set the upper limit at 28 weeks, not 24 weeks and the key influence on the Parliamentary debate at the time was the work of a medical advisory committee, chaired by the-then RCOG President Sir John Peel, which was given a brief to reduce the mortality and morbidity associated with illegal abortion.

Without going back to the Hansard record of the 1967 debates, I can’t be sure what consideration, if any, was given to the question of viability. So far as I’m aware the original 28 week limit was something that the Abortion Act inherited from the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929.

The current 24 weeks limit was set in 1990 through an amendment to the Abortion Act that was included in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act and, from memory, that was intended to reflect improvements in survival rates amongst extremely pre-term neonates. Even then, there were some instances in which neonates survived being born at 22-23 weeks gestation.

Epicure 1995, the study that provides the best baseline data for this debate is based on a 1996 birth cohort, which it followed through to 11 years of age. It’s that study that gives us the baseline for survival rates at 22-23 weeks gestation, which is 27% for neonates admitted to a neonatal ICU. However, NICU admissions account for 40% of births at 22-23 weeks – of the foetuses that are alive when the mother goes into labour, 20% die during the birth and further 40% die, usually within minutes of the birth, either before they can be admitted to an NICE or, in some cases, because the mother/parent(s) have refused invasive medical treatment.

Of those that do survive. around 50% exhibit a serious neurodevelopmental and/or physical disability at age 11 – for neurodevelopmental disabilities, serious is defined as having cognitive abilities that are 2 standard deviation below population average, which is broadly equivalent of IQ score of 70-75.

The follow-up to Epicure 1995, Epicure 2, is based on 2006 birth cohort and shows no significant improvements in neonatal survival rates at 22-23 weeks, although survival rates at 24 weeks and upward have improved over the 11 years between the two studies.

The neonatal survival rate at 20 weeks was zero in 1967, 1990 and is still zero today,

So although there is new evidence from Epicure 2, it serves only to confirm the findings of Epicure for neonates born just below the current abortion limit.

14. Chaise Guevara

Thanks Unity. Agreed that the proposal looks on pretty shaky ground there.

Just one thing I would add to this from Unity:

“Without going back to the Hansard record of the 1967 debates, I can’t be sure what consideration, if any, was given to the question of viability. So far as I’m aware the original 28 week limit was something that the Abortion Act inherited from the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929.

The current 24 weeks limit was set in 1990 through an amendment to the Abortion Act that was included in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act and, from memory, that was intended to reflect improvements in survival rates amongst extremely pre-term neonates. Even then, there were some instances in which neonates survived being born at 22-23 weeks gestation.”

Yes, but. The 28 weeks limit was a hard limit. No abortion for any reason at all after that. The 24 week limit became a soft limit. Abortion for reasons of the imperfection of the foetus (at minimum) became possible up to term after that change.

Yes, yes, I know, I’m entirely out of step with the modern world. But I really am not convinced that the change to allowing abortion for, say, a cleft palate at 34 weeks, is an advance of human rights.

No, I’m not saying that is has happened. Only that that change in law allows it to do so. Not an advance to my mind.

The 1990 change moved the limit both down *and* up. And I object to the latter much more than I applaud the former.

Yes, yes, I know, I’m entirely out of step with the modern world. But I really am not convinced that the change to allowing abortion for, say, a cleft palate at 34 weeks, is an advance of human rights.

No, I’m not saying that is has happened. Only that that change in law allows it to do so. Not an advance to my mind.

You maybe out of step with the modern world, Tim, but you raise a valid issue.

Without getting into a detailed discussion of embryology, the difficulty that foetal disability raises is that of diagnosis.

A cleft palette could be just a cleft palette, in which case reconstructive surgery will correct the problem successfully once the child is born. Unfortunately, a cleft palette can also be an indicator of other, much more serious developmental problems and it can be almost impossible to distinguish between the two unless there are other outward signs of a developmental problem to aid the diagnosis.

A foetus should not. in law, be aborted after 24 weeks just because it has a cleft palette but where that does happen – and it will happen from time to time – the decision on whether or not to terminate the pregnancy will hinge not on the presence of the cleft palette but on an assessment of the probability that it is indicative of a more serious problem, a judgement call that may, ultimately, prove to have been wrong.

To what extent the public understand that is anyone’s guess but it’s reasonable to assume that a sizeable section of the general public don’t understand the complexity of the issue because they, wrongly, expect doctors to both deal in certainties rather than probabilities and to be infallible.

As with everything else in the abortion debate, there are no simple answers.

Lowering the time limit for abortions could lead to the deaths of hundreds of girls and women, as once more you will have the re-emergence of back street abortionists,also the unscrupulous Internet pill peddlers. Legal abortion was brought in to protect against women dying on kitchen floors bleeding to death or in agony because of septicemia.If Dorres wants to bring forth multitudious children from her womb,she has that right as that would be her choice her body,so how dare she dictate to others what rights they cannot have.

18. Chaise Guevara

@ 16 Unity

There’s also the odd moral quandary about aborting children because they’re going to be disabled. I say “odd” in that even if you’re in favour of free-choice abortion on any grounds, it can feel wrong that someone would abort a child on that basis. And then there’s the old hypothetical about people aborting children because they’re gonna be gay.

I think our instinctive morality has a lot of trouble dealing with the abortion issue, which might be one reason that so many people roll out the colours for one side and refuse to even entertain counter-arguments.

The latest is that she is going on ‘I’m a celebrity’ to promote her views. I expect the money will be too much of a lure to stop her going into the jungle. She will probably join UKIP if she has any credibility left after this.
Like many others I want to watch her enduring the the dreadful bug eating trials but every penny she generates through votes will go towards an anti-abortion charity, a cause I do not want support.

20. Chaise Guevara

@ 19 Duncan

I wonder whether the Tories are actually pissed off with her because she’s neglecting her duties, or because they suspect that the public getting several weeks’ exposure to Dorries will do them no favours at all in the next election…


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Jason Brickley

    Nadine Dorries Granted Debate On Abortion Limit http://t.co/ddSCJgi3

  2. EK McAlpine

    Nadine Dorries you suck like a lot http://t.co/H6OpPET2 also some bitch wrote this idea

  3. EK McAlpine

    I am pro abortion but who wrote this http://t.co/H6OpPET2

  4. Dawn Mckenna

    Nadine Dorries you suck like a lot http://t.co/H6OpPET2 also some bitch wrote this idea

  5. Sarah McAlpine

    Dorries Granted An Undoubtably Shit-Tastic Debate On The Abortion Limit. My report @libcon http://t.co/98yixhvW

  6. loulou

    Here we go again. *repurposes ancient Alton Bill placards* RT @libcon: Nadine Dorries Granted Debate On Abortion Limit http://t.co/ZA7pyJEC

  7. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Nadine Dorries Granted Debate On Abortion Limit http://t.co/iYlpjOZy

  8. Celyn

    Liberal Conspiracy – Nadine Dorries Granted Debate On Abortion Limit http://t.co/iYlpjOZy

  9. Ian 'Cat' Vincent

    Nadine Dorries Granted Debate On Abortion Limit http://t.co/Onu31kIl Ohforfucksake.

  10. Martin Campbell

    It is tiresome to have to fight over and over again to defend the same women's rights. http://t.co/Y2uhfTcv #Abortion

  11. Angie Pedley

    RT @libcon: Nadine Dorries Granted Debate On Abortion Limit http://t.co/SQXDMOlN

  12. Sarah McAlpine

    Dorries Granted A Debate On The Abortion Limit. My report @libcon http://t.co/98yixhvW

  13. Roan

    What a surprise, Dorries will make a Hallowe'en appearance http://t.co/T4IgZ2EF

  14. [petition] War on Women: The Abortion Battle (and Nadine Dorries’ upcoming debate) « slendermeans

    […] Nadine Dorries Granted Debate On Abortion Limit (liberalconspiracy.org) [share]ShareEmailFacebookTwitterTumblrPinterestStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. « [link] Where are the women in universities? […]





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