On 31st October, Nadine Dorries has been granted a 90 minute debate in the House of Commons on reducing the time limit for legal abortions in the UK from 24 weeks to 20 weeks.
In 2011, less than 9% of the total number of abortions carried out in England and Wales were performed after 13 weeks. The number of abortions and the abortion rate have been falling (UK and worldwide: abortions and the abortion rate fall as women get access to contraception and teenagers are routinely educated in the use of contraception). A girl or a woman who is pregnant and doesn’t want to be, will try to get an abortion as early as possible: that’s common sense and it’s confirmed by the statistics.
NHS pre-natal care includes offering a scan between week 18 and week 20 to find if there are major physical health problems with the foetus. The scan is offered at this point because of the timescale of human foetal development: basic biological science which neither 50,000 years nor modern technology has changed.
In response to your latest column in the New Statesman.
Being “a lefty” has a vague definition. To Daily Mail readers, it may mean anyone leftwing of Kenneth Clarke: to Mitt Romney’s followers, David Cameron is an unacceptable lefty. But let’s suppose it means, more or less, that you consider “social equality” to be more important than individual profit. I put “social equality” inside inverted commas because I appreciate that this is itself a concept that people have a different understanding of: it’s not so long since LGBT people were not included in any lefty mainstream understanding of “social equality”, and as we see with the current support for restricting abortion rights, for Julian Assange’s “right” to dodge being questioned on a sexual assault charge, for the silence about Jimmy Savile’s sexual abuse for so many decades, it’s still uncertain whether many men think to include women in their ideal of “social equality”.
The NHS had existed for 19 years before it became possible for a woman who had had her children born in an NHS hospital to have an abortion in an NHS hospital.
In Northern Ireland, though the UK citizens there pay for the NHS just as they do in England, Scotland, and Wales, a woman who needs an abortion usually cannot get one: with the exception of molar and ectopic pregnancies, which are accepted even in the Republic of Ireland as needing to be aborted, any woman who needs an abortion must find the fare to England and a place to stay overnight before the abortion.
Until next Thursday. Marie Stopes International will open a clinic in Belfast on Thursday 18th October, and – acting within the ambiguous confines of the law – will be the first providers of legal abortion to women who would otherwise have to travel to London:
The main legislative restriction is the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861. Since 1967, the Abortion Act has governed abortion in England, Scotland and Wales but Northern Ireland was excluded, and the 1861 Act still applies there.
Whenever Labour, the Conservatives, the LibDems, or the SNP, talk about how the important things are to let big companies pay less tax and to crack down on benefit fraud, we can be quite sure they are telling a story which is aimed at getting tabloid support:
Tax evasion currently costs this country £25bn a year; tax avoidance – that is, large companies and wealthy individuals who “take advantage” of the system – cost us £70bn a year. In addition to this, £26bn is going uncollected, adding up to a staggering £121bn in total – or, to put it in context, three-quarters of the annual deficit. To put it in yet more context, the amount lost to disability fraud is estimated at £1bn – and this figure should be considered in the context of benefit underpayment, which consistently saves more than the fraud costs. This does not of course excuse fraud, but it does make a mockery of the coalition’s claims that abuse of the system is costing money that they will save by being “efficient” – another euphemism.
All of these parties at Westminster and Holyrood seem to think they can tell us what should matter to us.
I am undecided about how I’ll vote in 2014, and free for nothing, I’ll tell both Labour and the SNP how they could convince me to vote their way.
Tell me you’re going to build enough council houses that everyone who needs to rent one can have one. And keep building them so that as the stock diminishes by Right To Buy, it increases by new builds. You know this will save money – Housing Benefit has effectively become a subsidy for people who can afford to buy a place for the purpose of renting it out. Nice little earner for them. You know this will increase employment, decrease homelessness, improve quality of life hugely, even improve educational scores – children don’t tend to do well in school when they’re living in a bed-and-breakfast. Continue reading
There are a set of moral, ethical, and medical issues around abortion.
[Also about use of Care Quality Commission staff for a politician’s personal prejudices. More of that in the update below.]
The Telegraph does not appear to be interested in any of them, in its latest US-style article about “abortion clinics”.
First and most importantly: Is the person who is having the abortion being coerced in any way? It would be immoral and inethical for a doctor to perform an abortion on anyone unless she wants to have her pregnancy terminated.