According to the note of the cabinet discussion, there seemed to be a concern, that for the government to allow yet further time for this bill would be taken by the public as implying a degree of government support for it. However, after a full discussion, the cabinet
“agreed that further Parliamentary time should be provided by the Government for the Termination of Pregnancy Bill, on the basis that this time was allowed solely in order to enable Parliament to reach a conclusion on a Bill which had attracted considerable Parliamentary support.”As a result, on Thursday 13 July, John Silkin, the government chief whip (and son of Lord Silkin, who would subsequently sponsor the bill during its passage through the House of Lords) moved that the Medical Termination of Pregnancy bill may be proceeded with (though opposed) until any hour i.e. another open-ended debate. This motion was agreed to by 303 votes to 202.
Once again, pro-life MPs fought against all the odds to prevent the passage of this bill. Norman St John-Stevas had circulated a letter asking pro-life MPs to filibuster. Sadly, the sponsors – using a whole host of untruths and exaggerations – persuaded the House of Commons to support the bill. However, it still took an all-night sitting for the bill to complete its Report stage. At 11.45 am on Friday 14 July, MPs voted by 167 votes to 83 to give the bill a Third Reading.
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