Anti-choice law defeated

As we suggested at the weekend, Parliament rejected Nadine Dorries’ Termination of Pregnancy Bill by a majority of 79 yesterday.  That isn’t surprising because most MPs are pro-choice.  Dorries again rolled out the claim that abortions conducted after 20 weeks are for “social” reasons, a claim rather lacking in evidence.  She didn’t even bother to justify or explain the proposed 10-day mandatory pause in service (combined with compulsory counselling).

What was most interesting about the short debate was the response by Labour MP Chris McCafferty.  Reading the speech online is pretty powerful for people interested in this issue, but watching it on parliament.tv it came across amazingly strongly – it loses a lot of the power and eloquence in writing. 

McCafferty accused the promoters of the Bill of joining a “campaign that is fuelled and funded by religious conservatives from Washington” – hinting at the PR company apparently hired by Dorries.  She went on to demolish the arguments in favour of reducing term limits, a mandatory pause in service and the other provisions of the Bill.  She finished by calling on MPs to vote, “against the Bill if you are pro-humanity, because it is cynical, cruel, ill-informed and, above all, inhumane.”

Interestingly, the vote pretty much broke down along party lines, with only a handful of Labour and Lib Dem MPs (the latter including Bob Russell and Mark Oaten – make up your own joke) voting for the Bill, while those opposing the Bill only included a handful of Tories. 

This does carry a serious warning for those defending women’s right to choose in Britain – another 40 Tory MPs in the House could have overturned the majority. 

Strangely, most of the Government didn’t make the vote – including Blair, Brown, Prescott, Reid, Benn, Blears, Johnson, Hain and Harman.  They are busy governing the country of course, and ministers do not normally vote on a Ten Minute Rule Bill, but this wasn’t just any old Bill, it was the first vote on abortion law in Britain for 16 years and it is a shame they couldn’t make time. 

18 Responses to Anti-choice law defeated

  1. Ex-staff says:

    Errr, another 40 Tories would have reduced the majority by 40, not have overturned it at all. And, as this was a TMRB I cannot really balme ministers for being elsewhere – it would have suited the anti-choice mob to have turned this into a cause celebre, especially as that would have mobilised the catholic (laregely Labour) vote and have spooked more backbenchers. As it is this tawdry little bill has been humped, and nobody really cares.

  2. sosialydd says:

    The interesting thing about the vote was quite how few M.P’s bothered to turn up (it was about a quarter I think).

  3. Nick says:

    About 40% of MPs turned up – pretty high for a Ten Minute Rule Bill.

    Ex-staff – if there were another 40 Tory MPs in the House that would mean 40 less MPs of other parties, and the majority was 79. Do the maths!

    Some ministers made it – e.g. Margaret Hodge. I wouldn’t expect a mass turnout from the Cabinet but I’d have expected Harman to attend, for example.

    Still, I’m sure we can all be glad this ridiculous Bill was rejected.

  4. Andrea says:

    So 20 Tory MPs voted against. 5 Labour MPs (Frank Field, MacKinlay, McGovern, Pound and David Taylor) and 9 LD MPs voted (other than the 2 already mentioned, Laws, Stunnell, Roger Williams, Heath, Farron, Beith and Barker) in favour.
    All NI MPs present were in favour (6 DUP and 1 SDLP)
    SNP…4 in favour, 1 against (Salmond didn’t vote). Just 1 Plaid MP voted and he voted against.
    Dr Taylor and Clare Short also voted against.
    I think Hodge was the only minister present

  5. Thomas says:

    Andrea – as always, thanks for the detail😉

    I don’t want to be political about this issue, but given that her campaign for DL is based entirely on being pro-women, you have thought she could be bothered to pitch up for this vote.

  6. Nick says:

    I assume you mean Harman, Thomas? I agree it’s a surprise, she’s not in the Cabinet and her constituency is v close to Parliament.

    Also surprising is the anti-choice stance by the SNP MPs, and the split amongst the Lib Dems was bigger than you might expect.

  7. Ex-staff says:

    Nick, why does having 40 more Tories there mean there would be less opposition MPs?

    Where does that guff come from?

  8. Ex-staff says:

    Ah, I see now. You mean if another 40 had been elected, not bothered to have turned up.

    Well, anyone who doesn’t know that the Tories are scum is seriously deluded in any case.

  9. I think Nick means the same as us – 40 more MPs in the House, i.e. elected at the general election – not 40 more MPs in the Chamber, i.e. happening to sit on the green benches at the time.

    Thought that was obvious from what we saying, but perhaps I should have phrased it slightly better. Our point was that if the Tories won 40 more seats, the next vote on abortion would be a lot closer. That’s the warning.

  10. Andrea says:

    Thoman, it was a pleasure! 😉
    Of the Conservative Shadow Cabinet, 9(Davis, Fox, Hague, Letwin, Lidington, McLoughlin, Osborne, Spellman and Swire) out 23 turned out to vote. All in favour
    Looking at LD shadown Cabinet, 17 (out of 22) turned out to vote: 14 in favour and 3 against

  11. Thomas says:

    Nick – sorry, yes meant Harman. I was really surprised she didn’t make it. I hope she has a good excuse, because although it wasn’t a whipped vote, it is a really important issue to lots of people.

    Ex-staff – who uses the word “guff” anymore?! Its like we’re in the 1980s again😉

  12. sosialydd says:

    About 40% of MPs turned up

    Ah well. Maths never was my strong point. And still isn’t it seems.

    Labour turnout was fairly low though. The division within the Tories is quite interesting actually.

    Just noticed something suprising; apparently Jim Dobbin voted against it.

  13. Andrea says:

    maybe he voted against because the bill was too permissive

  14. sosialydd says:

    With him that’s certainly possible.

    A lot of pro-life Labour M.P’s don’t seem to have voted at all.

  15. I notice John Bercow and Crispin Blunt were in the pro-choice lobby. Aren’t either of them in the Shadow Cabinet? I obviously don’t follow the line-up that closely these days.

  16. Andrea says:

    I just considered member of the Shadow Cabinet and not all the shadow junior ministers (because with the Libdems, actually the majority of MPs hold some sort of portfolio)….Bercow is not even a shadow junior minister (he’s in the international development select committee) and Blunt is an opposition whip now

  17. Ex-staff says:

    I am old

  18. Tim Worstall says:

    Britblog Roundup #90

    Here we go again with the 90 th edition of those posts that you nominate, the ones you think we all ought to see. Apologies for the late posting, it was indeed necessary to see our boys put to the

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