The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
Abortion
Posted Monday, 4 June 2007 at 14:53

So, the Roman Catholic Church has gone nuclear on abortion.

 

As someone who has a Bill currently running in the House of Commons - to reduce the upper limit at which an abortion can take place from 24 to 20 weeks, and, to introduce a period of informed consent (a cooling off period) - which is about to come back onto the floor of the House for its third reading in October, the month of the 40th anniversary of the Abortion Act, this is a position I should welcome. However, I have very mixed feelings.

 

Where has the Catholic church, or for that matter, any Christian church been for the last 40 years?

 

The Abortion Act of 1967 was introduced to legalise abortion in order to end the back street abortion racket.

 

Illegal abortions were costing lives or leaving women with horrific physical consequences and infections. Something had to be done.

 

Pre 1967, abortion was a last resort, something a woman resorted to in the most desperate of situations. The reason being because the frightening alternative was the back street abortionist. Everyone knew someone who had a horror story to tell. Breaking the law was not something people undertook lightly either.

 

Today the Act is undoubtedly used as a form of contraception, and the law, as presently drafted, allows for this to be the case.

 

It is a fact that the law needs to be amended, however, it is also the case that the public need to be made more aware of what is actually taking place with regard to abortion within society today.

 

The graphic 4D images which have been put into the public domain by Professor Campbell have assisted hugely with this process.

 

There has never been a pregnant woman who has not wished, at some stage of her pregnancy, that she had a window which she could peep through to see her unborn child. Professor Campbell and 4D screening has done just that, a miracle in itself. We can see the foetus at all stages of development to the point where we can watch a smile, or a thumb being sucked, a hiccough, or even a little cry.

 

The reports which show that women who have abortions are three times more likely than other women to suffer from depression later in life needs to be constantly highlighted. It should be incumbent upon every GP who counsels a pregnant woman seeking an abortion to inform her of this fact.

 

600 abortions a day take place in the UK, this is an unacceptably high number within a civilised society. We have one of the highest rates of abortions within Europe along with the highest rates of teenage pregnancies.

 

Abortion has become a growth industry, facilitated, and, aided by the law.

 

The recent stance the Catholic Church has taken will assist in putting all of these facts into the public domain. I welcome the fact that it will heighten public awareness with regard to the sheer abuse of the Abortion Act and will once again push abortion up the public and political agenda.

 

However, public opinion has recently shifted with regard to abortion, but not to the position of the Catholic church.

 

The public agree that the upper limit should be reduced, that we should work to offer women alternatives, help them to think very clearly about what they are doing, and, where possible, help to provide another solution.

 

But it hasn’t shifted so far that the public want to ban abortion altogether.

 

For some, the moral dilemma of subjecting women to becoming criminals and seeking the services of the back street abortionist is as big a moral issue as abortion itself.

 

All this will be considered by Roman Catholic MPs when discussing the dictat of the RC church.

 

Personally, I wish the Church had taken in the bigger picture. Had tried to see that seismic change isn’t going to happen overnight. That the process of reducing the number of abortions which take place each day needs to be approached from a number of angles.

 

We need to address the fact that the reason why so many unwanted pregnancies occur is due to the fact that so many young people are having unprotected sex. They think it is cool to have sex from a very young age, and that the majority of teenage boys think that the responsibility for the consequences of sex has nothing to do with them.

 

That the morning after pill costs £25 from a chemist and that is only free with an appointment from a GP, which can take up to four days rendering such a solution useless.

 

If you are a 16 year old in full time education or on benefits who realises that you may be pregnant and are faced with spending £25 or chancing your luck, you will probably chance your luck.

 

Addressing the high number of abortions which take place is not just about making statements to ban abortion.

 

Making dramatic statements such as withholding the holy sacrament from MPs who don’t vote to ban abortion completely will only serve to feed and galvanise the pro choice lobby. The comments made by Cardinal Keith O’Brien make the RC Church look out of step with public opinion and extreme.

 

Eye-catching for the day I will concede, however ammunition for the pro-choice lobby to use for a long time to come.

 

The pro-life lobby has achieved very little since the introduction of the '67 Act as the rate of abortions continues to increase. It is a fact that the pro-choice lobby are winning the battle.

 

I would like to see the debate move away from the argument to ban abortion altogether and to approach the problem form a number of fronts, in a reasonable and considered manner. Free from political and religious dogma.

 

Unfortunately, I don’t think the Roman Catholic Church has really assisted a great deal in this process.

 

Maybe the Church could try knocking some big moral stakes into the ground which inform society of its position with regard to sex before marriage.

 

The Church could, if it were adventurous enough, once again become a force and set the moral agenda within the communities it serves. But that is much harder work than making a grand statement.

 

Meanwhile another 4,200 abortions will take place this week. Maybe if those who wish to ban abortion thought a little harder about the heartache and the tears many of those girls and women will go through this week, not all, I know, but many, they maybe everyone will try just that bit harder to find a realistic solution.

 

If the pro-life lobby thought a little more about the pregnant woman, and if the pro choice lobby thought a little more about the baby - if everyone accepted that we don’t live in an ideal world, yet, and everyone has to give a little, then maybe we might just begin to get somewhere near a solution that the majority of people who live within  this society would like to see.

 

A reduction in the number of abortions carried out each day achieved via a number of measures – a reduction in the upper limit from 24 to 20 weeks and a period of informed consent, not ideal, I agree, but a massive improvement from where we are today.

 

Which, whatever way you look at it, boils down to the Roman Catholic Church blackmailing MPs .Almost as desperate a measure as resorting to a back street abortionist. In my limited experience MPs don’t take well to being backed into a corner or having their independence challenged. Not a good move.

 

My Bill's 3rd Reading Is In October 2007

 
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Monday, 4 June 2007
Nadine You are being unfair to the Catholic and Christian churches. 1. You approach Cardinal O'Brien's statement from a politician's perspective. From this perspective it may or may not be counter-productive, but Cardinal O'Brien is not a politician. Rather he is called to preach the gospel in season and out of season which he emphatically did last week. 2. If the churches were simply preaching and not caring, your comments would have more validity. However the churches and organisations led by Christians are at the forefront of caring work for women damaged by abortion or wishing a practical alternative. I think of CareConfidential and Cardinal Winning's initiative in Glasgow. I find your analysis of the limited scope to change the current law to be realistic but I hope that you will support Ann Winterton's 10 minute rule bill and other measures e.g. parental knowledge of abortions on children etc that should find support on both sides of the main argument.
 
 
Sweeper said:
Responded: Monday, 4 June 2007
Perhaps the Roman Catholic church should reconsider its ban on using contraceptives before pressurising MP's who follow the RC faith.I do not understand why three Conservative ( and women at that-where are the men?) MP's (Anne Winterton, Anne Widecombe and yourself) are all introducing Bills for changes to the Abortion Act? Surely,one Bill promoted by the three, or doesn't it work like that? Having watched a news item on how the authorities in China enforce the 'one child per couple' rule, where women discovered pregnant with second child are brutally forced to abort (an obsenity in itself) at least there is a choice in this country.But as time and technology move on, then it becomes a necessity for this Law to be changed and quickly.
 
 
Alison , Ampthill said:
Responded: Monday, 4 June 2007
Right with you Nadine. The Catholic church has billions of £s which it sits on. I would rather see that being spent on providing visible homes/clinics for those who could see that there is another option to abortion. They could be promoted as somewhere else to go other than the abortion clinic. My mum says they had them in the 60's and they were full and couples who wanted to adopt a baby could.
 
 
Jane said:
Responded: Monday, 4 June 2007
You are one of the few people who talks any sense on this, the rest will argue themsleves around a paper bag. To be honest, I didn't even know until I read your blog that abortions did take place at 24 weeks, it wasn't something I had ever thought about. Now I am interested in the subject,mainly because I am pregnant myself I suppose. You are right though, it is too late and I would listen to what you had to say, a woman with a common sense approach before I would listen to any man who wants to ban condoms and lets teenagers get pregnant in the first place.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Monday, 4 June 2007
Nadine for Pope! Or should that be Popess?
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Monday, 4 June 2007
The church speaks, we all yawn, because we all know how hypocritical they are being. I don't think he should even have said anything about this because he has detracted from the work you and Anne Winnterton are putting in. Any church that lets child abuse take place to the extent the catholic church has should really shut up and put it's own house in order first. Personally, I am very suspicious of anything a man who has never had sex and outlaws contraception has to say on this issue. How can he possibly even begin to know what he is talking about? I suppose it's never stopped men before though has it?
 
 
Stuart Fairney said:
Responded: Monday, 4 June 2007
"MPs don’t take well to being backed into a corner or having their independence challenged" Is that why you never obey 3-line whips? No wait.... You aren't independent, you're lobby fodder, apart from on the odd free vote, accept it.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Monday, 4 June 2007
Speaking as a catholic, the problem with my church is we rant. We preach and we rant. Every comment everyone has made here is true. My church has serious work to do ' in house' before people will listen to what we have to say. We are tarnished goods, if we think a subject is important we shouldn't comment on it, not yet, not until we are credible again and people are prepared to listen to us. He used the dramatic headline to get publicity, he shouldn't have done it.
 
 
Sam, Eversholt said:
Responded: Monday, 4 June 2007
Couldn't agree with you more. You are a breath of fresh air.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Monday, 4 June 2007
Abortion is here to stay, so trying to find a way to reduce the number, rather than ban abortion completley, must be the right way to go about this. Celibate men in frocks must be the bain of your life.
 
 
akiv said:
Responded: Tuesday, 5 June 2007
As a child I remeber catholic families having hundreds of kids they couldn't afford, following the church's teaching on contraception. Even though this caused those families to live in poverty and the mother's old and worn out before their time, the priests still came around every week to collect for the church. I find the hypocrosy and greed of the catholic church breathtaking. Abortion is not a good thing and I don't understand why there are so many unwanted pregnancies with contraception now so freely available. It should still be available in some circumstances but the criteria should be stricter and properly enforced, it should not be regarded as an alternative to responsible contraception. The time limit should definately be reduced and hope the bill to do this is successful.
 
 
Hamish Flint said:
Responded: Tuesday, 5 June 2007
My grandad told me once that there are 3 subjects one should never discuss in polite company: sex, politics and religion: as the abortion issue touches all three it's bound to upset folks left right and centre. (No, as this proves I didn't listen to grandad). I see a direct link between the high number of teenage pregnancies and the abortion rate: And its socio-economic : neither Tory nor Labour governments have stopped the practice of usually poorly educated girls getting out of living in squalor with Mum and Pa and all their siblings by simply getting pregnant and get given the pick of a council flat. This is certainly not standard practise in the rest of Europe and their teenage mum rate is significantly lower. If a stop was put to this crazy waste of resources, surely the 'desire'to become a teenage mum would be diminished in the first place ?. Because once a teenage mum has her flat, she can have all the 'fun' in the world as she's now where she wanted to be - clearly resulting in more terminations of babies which do not bring such 'freebies'.
 
 
 
Contact Nadine
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
via e-mail at: nadine.dorries.mp@parliament.uk
or Telephone on 020 7219 5928

 
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