Friday 7 March 2008

MP's muddled thinking on abortion

In an article calling for a lower upper limit for abortion, Mrs Nadine Dorries MP speaks movingly about the killings of babies at 19, 24 and 28 weeks. However, pro-lifers must be wary of her proposal for reasons I explain, in a different context, in a letter published in the Catholic Herald this weekend. (Since I cannot link to the letters’ pages of the Herald, I reprint it below.)

The dangers of Nadine Dorries’s proposal are clearly illustrated in her own position on abortion. She endorses a woman’s right to choose abortion. She introduced a 10-minute rule bill in 2006 which included a provision to fast-track abortion once the final consent had been given. This provision, if the Bill had succeeded, could have led to even more resources being spent on killing the unborn.

Her revulsion at late abortion is wholly appropriate, but her tactics in trying to curb it are wrong, dangerous and likely to make matters worse, not better.

Her inconsistent stance politically is perhaps a reflection of her muddled thinking on abortion, best expressed by Ms Dorries herself in today’s Daily Mail: “What got me was the total lack of regard for human life. I have no issue with abortion at the right time. But this is murder."

My letter in this weekend’s Catholic Herald:

It’s misleading to describe SPUC’s approach to abortion law reform as “all or nothing”. (Catholic Herald, Interview, 21st December 2007)

For many years SPUC has pointed out that the Abortion Act 1967, terrible as it is, could be made significantly worse. A careful examination of the recent votes on abortion in the current Parliament shows many more MPs supporting the pro-abortion lobby than the pro-life lobby.

With the numbers stacked against us, it makes no sense at all to add to the calls of the pro-abortion lobby for Parliament to amend the abortion law.

When Parliament last voted on the upper limit for abortion (in 1990), exceptions were included which resulted in the legalisation of abortion up to birth. Leading pro-abortion politicians have since indicated that want abortion to be more widely available. Negotiating any lower limit is likely to involve a trade-off with more exceptions being allowed beyond the limit – up to birth – thus resulting in more abortions taking place.

The beginning of political influence for the pro-life movement in the UK both inside and outside Parliament must be a candidly honest assessment of our political strength. Only after such an assessment, can prudent decisions be made about how to limit the harm of Britain’s abortion legislation.

Thus, along with other pro-life groups, SPUC is working closely with leading pro-life politicians in Northern Ireland who are calling on Gordon Brown to seek to prevent a House of Commons vote extending the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

It is wrong to say that SPUC does not communicate with other groups.

SPUC has always acknowledged that our lobbying and educational work is not the whole of the pro-life battle. We have encouraged and supported the work of other groups especially in the field of pro-life counselling. We continue to liaise with other organisations through the London-based ‘Choose Life’ committee and in several areas, particularly Scotland, SPUC collaborates with LIFE on education work. Although the national Pro-life Umbrella Committee is not meeting at present, we support its revival.

SPUC fights for the right to life of all unborn children, and works on the basis of a realistic political strategy. It is not an “all or nothing” approach. It’s one which takes into account the real danger of making things worse, as well as the urgent need to devise strategies that will enable us to make progress despite the hostile political climate.

Yours sincerely,

John Smeaton

SPUC national director