Abortion reform latest

The abortion reform campaign doesn’t look like a dead duck by any means. I can’t find any press coverage yet, so important exchanges are below the fold. From Pro Choice press release, Thursday 9 October

Yesterday pro-choice supporters flocked into the Commons to launch their
campaigning ahead of expected votes at the Report stage of the Human
Fertilisation and Embryology Bill now likely to be on the 22 October.

Diane Abbott Labour MP who has tabled New Clause 30 to extend access to
safe, legal abortion to women in Northern Ireland said:
“Now we have been able to do something historic, to [table an amendment
to] extend the rights that all women of the Britain already have into
Northern Ireland. The issue here is, should there be a group of women in
the United Kingdom who are essentially second-class citizens?”
Speaking of the anti abortion lobby Ms Abbott said “These are a set of
people who are the greatest hypocrites, their real problem is with women’s
enfranchisement. Given their way, they would take back the economic
progress and social progress that women have been able to make in the last
40 years.”

From Hansard. Questions to the Leader of the House (and minister for women).

Mr. Nigel Dodds (Belfast, North) (DUP): The remaining stages of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill are due to be taken on 22 October. Will the Leader of the House accept that that Bill is a highly inappropriate vehicle to impose a fundamental change in relation to the law on abortion in Northern Ireland? Given that the communities and all parties in Northern Ireland are united on the issue, if devolution is to mean anything, the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland should be respected in that regard.

Ms Harman: Obviously it is very important that the question of the view of the parties in Northern Ireland is taken into account, irrespective of the issue that is being raised. It is also important that the views of men and women are taken into account in all parts of the United Kingdom when services are being considered. As the hon. Gentleman said, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill will come before the House next week, and no doubt he will be able to make his points in the debate.


  • Rory

    Good! Harman’s neat ‘not giving an inch’ reply to Dodds is heartening. I really cannot envisage that the Commons would vote to deny to the women of Northern Ireland those services which are available elsewhere throughout the jurisdiction.

    I can think of no reason why the religious sensibilities of the backwoodsmen of this small province should weigh any heavier than the religious sensibilities of the backwoodsmen of England, Scotland and Wales of which there is a plenitude and a vociferous one at that.

  • monicaisveryquiet

    Whats the position of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission on this?

  • This will not get through. The government don’t support it. The difference with Great Britain is that in 1967 Northern Ireland had its own parliament, Scotland and Wales didn’t.

  • It’s true that the government do not support extension of the Abortion Act to NI; however,it’s been Labour Party policy going back to the 1980s and in opposition they all voted to extend. Now there is a large pro-choice majority in the House of Commons and it could pass even with all the Labour frontbenchers voting against (or more likely abstaining). Anyone who saw Hazel Blears discomfiture when asked about her voting intentions on Hearts and Minds can see the problem facing many Labour MPs, especially women like Blears, Harman, Hewitt etc who made their names as women’s rights activists and are now being asked to say they believe a woman’s right to choose is a fundamental right for women in Scotland, England and Wales but not NI. Some will abstain and that may lose us the vote but it is a free vote and many will vote with their consciences despite what Gordon Brown is saying to them. The key will be hearing from women and men here who explain the extent to which the political parties do NOT represent us on this issue. At least 80,000 women from here have had abortions in Britain. Surveys suggest that each involves up to 5 other people in making the decision. Do the maths, that’s a lot of people in a region that has only 1.7 million people.

  • IJP

    Thanks Goretti.

    I believe the key political point is in your final three sentences.

    The fact is the law in NI does not stop abortions taking place, it merely serves to make them even more harrowing for the women involved.

    That is why the law must be changed.

    I’m not sure extension of the law as in GB is the best way, but in some ways that would serve those politicians who shirk their responsibility on this issue right.

    No one is “pro-abortion”. But we must, at very least, ensure that women have access to the same information, counselling and health services as they have elsewhere in the UK. Anything else is a breach of rights and, more importantly in my view, a basic breach of dignity.

  • IJP, ideally, we would like a much better, more modern law on abortion to apply here. One, for example, where the woman herself decided whether or not she has a right to an abortion – not one where she has to persuade two doctors of it. But, just read the latest lot of draft guidelines on abortion issued by the DHSSPSNI. These are completely insulting to women and suggest that the Taliban in Stormont do not see women as having the same right to basic healthcare as do men. The guidelines for which the consultation period has just ended will, in my opinion and in the opinion of some British ob/gyn consultants, will put women’s lives in danger. But even these guidelines – as restrictive as the law in Afghanistan, Iran, Bangladesh – are the subject of debate among the anti-choice lobby in Stormont. Some of them think it too liberal. In this situation, the only hope there is of abortion being available here for even the very ‘hardest’ of cases is if the 1967 Abortion Act is extended to this region.

  • Yvette Doll

    ‘No one is “pro-abortion”.’

    It is an absolute position, abortion for its own sake, it is simply not honest to pretend otherwise.

    The pro-abortion people don’t stand on dignity, are we talking about the same people?

    The FPA position is ideological, that’s there regardless of other considerations, which can be emotive, there are females from the 26 who come up as well.

    If it is imposed, we may as well get rid of the assembly. There is no point having it.

    Yvette Doll

  • Ellen


    Its not as if you dont get enough publicity!

    BBC, UTV (British propaganda machines that they are, hey!) etc.. love you . I thought at one point last week that I was watching a reel of the Horgan/McCann show over and over again. Surely no other family gets so much exposure.

    And still no one votes you in.

    Oh dear. Can it be we see through you and your lies.