Tories go on anti-choice rampage

The new cuddly Tories are to let the mask slip a little on Tuesday with an attempt to make it significantly harder for woman to have an abortion.  Nadine Dorries, a 2005 intake Tory, is so determined to push the restrictive law through that she has apparently hired a PR firm to help sell the proposals.  Presumably, she hasn’t paid for the PR firm herself, which begs the question where the cash comes from.

Dorries’ Bill – which has no real chance of becoming law – would do two things.  First, it would reduce the term limit at which a foetus can be aborted from 24 weeks to 20 weeks.  Second, it would introduce a compulsory “10 day delay” period, meaning that women would be forced to wait until later in their pregnancy to act on a decision they have already made – a decision which has to be approved by two doctors.

First off – reducing the term limit at which abortions can be carried out.  Less than 1% of abortions happen after 21 weeks, and the argument of Davies (who appeared on the Heaven and Earth show this morning) that these late abortions are carried out for “social reasons”, beggars belief.  Davies has produced no evidence for this claim.  A ten minute rule bill is hardly the sort of place to bring together doctors (90% of whom are pro-choice) and scientists to debate the issues.

Secondly, the cooling off period.  This is a direct import from the anti-choice campaigners in the US.  It is intended to give vocal campaigners and extremists space to initimdate persuade women not to go through with their decision.  The irony of Dorries’ combining of these two initiatives is that the cooling off period will lead to more late abortions, not less.

The Bill is effectively an extension of the “dog whistle” tactics that right-wingers use on race in to the abortion issue.  They won’t openly say that they oppose all abortion, but it is a coded message for anti-abortion activists that the Tories are on their side.

The Bill will be voted on as a free vote, but it will be interesting to see which MPs vote which way, and in fact which MPs make the effort to attend this unwhipped vote.

6 Responses to Tories go on anti-choice rampage

  1. Will Parbury says:

    It was put to me in the last general election campaign that women do have abortions for fun. Personally I can’t see it catching on as the primary method of female entertainment.

  2. sosialydd says:

    For personal (and, to a latter extent, religious) reasons I’m anti-abortion (albeit fairly moderately so) and I can’t really see anything in Davies bill that I like the look of.
    A couple of points on it:

    1. A reduction from 24 to 20 weeks makes very little difference. I would be interested in a sliding scale of some kind (say… 16 to 24 depending on the reasons for the abortion and so on), but that’s not the same thing at all.

    2. The 10 day delay idea is awful… I don’t see why increasing, even if slightly, the number of abortions carried out later is something to be desired, at all…

    3. Reforms to the abortion laws that would have a positive impact (from my point of view at least) are nowhere to be seen; (a lot) more support for single mothers, compulsory counselling before a decision is made (as in Germany), greater restrictions on the reasons for having an abortion rather than tighter time limits, greater enforcement of existing regulations on the reasons for having abortions, easier access to contraception… that kind of thing.

    It just looks like a political stunt, rather than a serious attempt to reform the law, and as someone who also thinks that abortion should not be a political issue, I find that quite sad.

  3. sosialydd says:

    Btw, I find it interesting how both sides of this debate tend to import all their arguments and rhetoric from the States… which has far, far, far more liberal abortion laws than we do, where abortion was legalised by a dubious piece of judicial activism (rather than by the normal legislative process) and where abortion has become a major partisan issue (with otherwise sane politicians of both parties taking up stupidly extreme positions just to get money out of the various disgusting lobby groups that exist on both sides of the debate over there).

  4. “They won’t openly say that they oppose all abortion, but it is a coded message for anti-abortion activists that the Tories are on their side.”

    I don’t think all the Tories are on their side. I certainly can’t see Cameron campaigning on this – unless he has a seriously funny turn.

    Albeit from a slightly different angle, I agree with some of the above. Abortion is a ‘lesser evil’ option, in that it certainly isn’t the preferable way for women to avoid having babies. As Will points out, no one’s having fun here.

    New Labour hasn’t done too badly on the sex education side of things but it should definitely continue along the route of education towards informed choices so that the choice of whether or not to have an abortion becomes less necessary.

  5. Andrea says:

    I think it’s Nadine Dorries and not Davies (already too many Davies/Davis in the Commons without adding Nadine)

  6. You’re quite right. Duly corrected. One of our news chimps clearly wrote this piece while recovering from Saturday night!

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