This afternoon in Westminster, MPs will debate the last stage of the Scotland Bill before the third reading and voting to pass the Bill to the House of Lords.
One of the recent amendments added to the Bill is from Fiona Bruce, a Conservative MP from an English constituency.
In the House of Commons there is an unfortunate concatenation of MPs who seek to ensure that UK healthcare outsources safe legal abortion overseas, and to subject women who cannot afford to travel to a forced pregnancy. Their excuse for doing so is that a human fetus is protected by “the sanctity of human life”, though a pregnant woman is apparently not so protected.
Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton, is a member of this group and was the proposer of the last-minute amendment to the Serious Crimes Act which would have ensured doctors were banned from allowing an abortion if the abortion was sex-selective. This significant change to the 1967 Abortion Act was proposed as a late amendment which would be discussed and voted on only at the third reading of the Serious Crimes bill before it was voted into law.
No consultation on this amendment had been done with groups such as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives, or the British Medical Association, all of which opposed the amendment.
The expectation of Fiona Bruce and her supporters was that MPs would vote for her amendment because they would not want to appear to support sex-selective abortion: there would be no time – they evidently hoped – for any consultation or explanation why it was a bad idea to vote for doctors to be criminalised if they could be accused of approving sex-selective abortions: how there is little to no evidence of any sex-selective abortions on social grounds in the UK (the key “evidence” was a sting operation run by a Daily Telegraph journalist who lied to doctors and clinic staff and secretly filmed their honest response to her lies).
Seven thoughts about abortion:
- All prolifers I’ve ever discussed abortion with, live in countries where women have access to safe legal abortion.
- No prolifer who’s ever given me their views on abortion has had any informed views on what would happen if women in their country no longer had access to safe legal abortion.
- The best person to judge if an abortion is necessary is almost invariably the woman who is pregnant.
- In the rare exceptions to point three, the better judges of whether an abortion is necessary have medical training and are medically responsible for the health and wellbeing of the pregnant woman as their patient.
- No woman who knew she needed an abortion ever refused to have what she needed.
- No man who cared for a woman ever wanted her to be hurt or die doing without what she needed.
- Prolife arguments for making abortion illegal are never about preventing abortions: only about making abortions more difficult, expensive, and dangerous.
Abortion was decriminalised in England, Scotland, and Wales in 1967. No one much younger than sixty can have direct personal memories of what it was like to live in a country where the law said that unless a girl or a woman was going to die when she was forced to have the baby.
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.
Lyall Duff thought he’d made his Facebook profile private. The lesson everyone should take from the Telegraph’s “investigative journalism” – finding a few ranty sweary posts and quoting or partially quoting them – is that Facebook is never reliably private.
The SNP have suspended Lyall Duff, but it is too late to take his name off the ballot for Murdostoun ward in North Lanarkshire: the Telegraph waited to disclose Lyall Duff’s posts until after the deadline precisely so that the SNP’s possibilities for damage limitation would be minimal. This will benefit Scottish Labour; they won a majority on North Lanarkshire council in 2007, and half of the seats in the Murdostoun ward. The Telegraph ran another story this morning with an opening:
Labour questioned why the SNP was prepared to pass new legislation cracking down on sectarianism in football matches but has so far refused to expel Lyall Duff. They accused the First Minister of crying “crocodile tears” over the affair.
Why are the Telegraph runing a press campaign to help Scottish Labour win one more seat in a local authority ward in North Lanarkshire?
Talking on Facebook is like having a conversation in a busy cafe. You have a reasonable expectation of privacy, if you’re an ordinary person talking quietly to a friend, but of course you can be overheard – and if you’re a political candidate for a non-Tory party and the person at the next table works for the Telegraph and you’re making [expletive deleted] comments that the Telegraph thinks they can use…
Lyall Duff is standing for election on 3rd May for the SNP in North Lanarkshire. Duff made the comments in January and February that the Telegraph chose to report today, so the timing is politically motivated: the SNP have the choice of backing Duff or sacking him, but it’s too late for them to invite him to stand down and let them find another candidate. If you are a candidate running for election it is sensible, to say the least, to make sure that your social media accounts say nothing that you would not wish to see quoted in the newspaper of your worst enemy.