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21 / 05 / 2008 - Precious Life `disgusted` at MPs who voted in support of killing of unborn babies
Precious Life held Prayer Vigils at the Houses of Parliament while MPs debated the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th May. The vigils were held from 1.00 - 3.00pm and afterwards members of Precious Life went into Parliament, to the Public Gallery overlooking the debating chamber, to continue praying
Precious Life are "disgusted" at the large numbers of MPs who voted in support of the killing of unborn babies. For the first time in nearly 20 years, MPs were voting on changes to the 1967 Abortion Act. The changes were through amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill. Precious Life held Prayer Vigils outside and inside Parliament during the debate.
Over 390 pro-abortion MPs voted against amendments seeking to lower the 24 week time limit. ( NOTE: while the upper time limit for abortions is stated as being 24 weeks, abortion is actually allowed right up to birth in the UK)
393 MPs voted to reject lowering the abortion limit to 12 weeks
387 MPs voted to reject lowering the abortion limit to 16 weeks
332 MPs voted to reject lowering the abortion limit to 20 weeks
304 MPs voted to reject lowering the abortion limit to 22 weeks
Director of Precious Life, Bernadette Smyth, said "Abortion should be banned completely but we are disgusted that these MPs would reject proposals to even limit the number of abortions, especially when the abortion rate is now reaching an all-time high. In Britain, nearly 600 little babies are brutally slaughtered every day!"
Amendments to further liberalise the 1967 Abortion Act are expected to be tabled at next stage of the Bill's passage through Parliament. These amendments at the 'Report Stage' may include :
• abortion on demand within the first trimester
• abortions to be performed by nurses and midwives without any input from doctors
• the removal of the conscience clause (which protects the position of doctors, nurses and ancillary personnel who do not wish to be involved in abortion)
• and the extension of the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.
Bernadette Smyth concluded "Our Postcard Campaign will continue to run throughout the HFE debate to ensure Westminster respects the wishes of the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland who are opposed to the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act."
A fresh drive to cut the abortion deadline will be launched after the next General Election, campaigners vowed today.
It follows last night's decisive rejection by the Commons of calls to reduce the current 24-week time limit to 22 or lower.
Although the impassioned debate cut across party boundaries, anti-abortion campaigners think they stand a chance after the election when, if polls are correct, there will be fewer Labour MPs to defend the status quo.
Ian Lucas, who co-ordinates the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, declared: "We will continue the fight to reflect the wishes of the public, and support the rights of the unborn child."
The Alive & Kicking Alliance, made up of pro-life groups and medical professionals, also vowed to continue its fight for a reduction in the number of abortions in the UK.
Its leaders accused Parliament of being "seriously out of touch" with the public mood following the vote to reject the lowering of the 24-week limit.
Spokesman Julia Millington said: "Two out of three people, including three out of four women, and two out of three doctors, have signalled their support for a lowering of the 24-week upper limit.
"This change has come about as a result of advances in neonatal care and our growing understanding of the humanity of the baby in the womb, coupled with the realisation that Britain is significantly out of step with the European average of 13 weeks.
"By ignoring this change in public mood, Parliament has demonstrated that it is seriously out of touch with the opinion of the British people on this issue.
"That this refusal to lower the limit was led the Prime Minister and his health ministers, and involved a three line whip recalling government MPs to Westminster, shows that the Government is not listening and is prepared to run roughshod over public opinion and put party politics above the health of women and their unborn children."
The most momentous Commons battle over abortion laws for almost 20 years ended with a call for a cut to 22 weeks being defeated by 304 votes to 233.
Cuts to 20, 16, and 12 weeks were also defeated, by wider margins.
Earlier in the evening MPs also voted to declare fathers an irrelevance by scrapping the obligation for IVF doctors to consider a child's need for a male role model.
Gordon Brown voted in favour of keeping the 24-week limit, while Tory leader David Cameron backed calls for both 20 and 22 week limits.
In all, 20 ministers and whips disagreed with the Prime Minister and voted for a reduction to 22 weeks.
Three were Cabinet ministers - Defence Secretary Des Browne, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly and Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy, all Roman Catholics.
The others included Paul Goggins, Tom Harris, Meg Hillier, Huw Irranca-Davies, Parmjit Dhanda, Ivan Lewis, Mike O'Brien, Tommy McAvoy, James Plaskitt, Bridget Prentice, Frank Roy, Gerry Sutcliffe, Derek Twigg, Kitty Ussher, Claire Ward and Iain Wright.
On the Tory side, almost the entire Shadow Cabinet voted to cut the limit.
But Shadow Chancellor George Osborne and Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers split with Mr Cameron by voting to preserve the status quo.
Mr Osborne had also voted the opposite way to Mr Cameron on the need for a father figure, which he opposed while his party leader supported it.
As recriminations began last night, pro-life MPs accused Labour of a clandestine campaign to maintain the status quo - even though all parties had promised a free vote.
With the turnout key to the outcome, they claimed Labour whips had imposed a "three-line whip" on attendance in the Commons to help deliver thumping majorities for the Government's position.
Tory MP Nadine Dorries, leader of the campaign to bring the limit down, shocked the Commons during the debate by recounting a late termination she had witnessed while working as a nurse.
She said: "A little boy was aborted into a cardboard bed pan which was thrust into my arms.
"As I stood and looked in that cardboard bed pan this little boy was gasping through mucus and amniotic fluid for his breath.
"I stood with him in my arms for seven minutes while he gasped for his breath and a botched abortion, which became a live birth, became a death seven minutes later.
"And I knew at that moment while I stood with that little boy in my arms that one day I would have the opportunity to stand and defend babies like him, because what I thought we were committing was murder."
Mother-of-three Miss Dorries said she hoped the surgical abortion process, where the foetus is dismembered and removed from the womb, would be shown on TV.
She said: "It was the most dramatic experience to watch as it was dismembered and put into a plastic bucket.
"I hope one day that is an operation which is filmed and put on to television because I think this fact has been kept from the general public for too long."
Mark Pritchard, Tory MP for The Wrekin, who also described a late termination in gruesome detail, said: "There is increasing concern that far too many abortions are being carried out for social rather than medical reasons."
Pro-life MPs argued that abortion has become so commonplace that hundreds of women use it instead of contraception.
There are now more than 200,000 abortions a year in England and Wales, up from 175,000 in 2002. Latest figures show that almost 3,000 were carried out after 20 weeks - a 44 per cent increase in a decade.
Recent polls suggest 58 per cent of people believe the abortion limit should be 20 weeks, a figure which rises to almost three-quarters among women.
The last time Parliament voted on abortion laws was in 1990, when the time limit was reduced from the 28 weeks in the 1967 Act that first legalised abortion.
Calls for reform have been driven by new types of ultrasound scans showing 12-week- old foetuses "walking", "dancing" and sucking their thumbs in the womb.
The 20-week scans now offered to all mothers-to-be, showing the development of the foetus with extraordinary clarity, also appear to have fuelled a shift in opinion.
A poll of GPs ahead of the Commons vote found two thirds wanted the time limit for "social" rather than medical abortions to be cut.
Church of England, Roman Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders have also all demanded a review. The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams suggested the law was being abused to allow abortion on demand.
But the Prime Minister said he supported the continuation of the 24-week limit.
Mr Brown said: "Abortion is a very, very difficult matter. Nobody wants to see abortions and when abortions happen we have got to listen to the women and people who themselves are worried about what is happening to their own lives.
"But medical evidence suggests there is no greater rate of survival before 24 weeks than there was before. Very few abortions happen after 20 weeks.
"There have always been very strong views on this. I respect all the views people have on this matter. Some are religious. I hold my own religious views.
"But I take the view that this is the right direction for Parliament to continue to take."
Mr Cameron, by contrast, told GMTV: "I think this is a really difficult issue, it is another issue of conscience.
"I think the reason personally why I want to see it come from 24, definitely to 22, is because there are now children being born at 22, or 23 weeks who survive.
"I think that it is very difficult to have a system that is aborting foetuses at that age when children are surviving."
Former Tory minister Edward Leigh said abortion "on demand" was now a reality and the UK had one of the highest rates in Europe.
"In modern Britain the most dangerous place to be is in your mother's womb," he told MPs.
But public health minister Dawn Primarolo said the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists both agreed there had been no improvement over recent years in the survival rates of babies born below 24 weeks.
"The consensus of medical evidence has not changed," she said.
"Any reduction in the time limit will have a greater impact on teenagers and those who are very vulnerable who do not recognise their pregnancies, giving them untold additional anxiety."
Labour MP Ian Lucas, campaign manager of the all-Parliamentary pro-life group, said last night: "We are disappointed MPs have not seen fit to recognise the wishes of three-quarters of the population. This decision is ironic, at a time when the Government is attempting to show it is listening and responding to public opinion.
"Regardless of reassurances of a free vote, Gordon Brown had clearly signalled his own preferences, thus providing many others with direction."
Source : Daily Mail
How ministers and Shadow Cabinet members voted in the failed bid to cut the abortion limit
The Cabinet ministers who voting against the bid to cut the abortion limit to 22 weeks were:
International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander
Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Hilary Benn
Communities and Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Culture, Media & Sport Secretary Andy Burnham
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Yvette Cooper
Chancellor Alistair Darling
Innovation, Universities and Skills Secretary John Denham
Leader of the Commons Harriet Harman
Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform Secretary John Hutton
Health Secretary Alan Johnson
Cabinet Office Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Ed Miliband
Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith
Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Jack Straw
Cabinet ministers voting for the cut to 22 weeks were:
Defence Secretary and Scotland Secretary Des Browne
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly
Wales Secretary Paul Murphy
Cabinet ministers who did not vote were:
Chief Whip Geoff Hoon
Foreign Secretary David Miliband
Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward
Shadow Cabinet members voting for the cut to 22 weeks were:
Shadow Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Secretary Peter Ainsworth
Leader David Cameron
Shadow Home Secretary David Davis
Shadow Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox
Shadow Wales Secretary Cheryl Gillan
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Chris Grayling
Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Philip Hammond
Shadow Justice Secretary Nick Herbert
Shadow Culture, Media & Sport Secretary Jeremy Hunt
Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley
Chairman of the Conservative Research Department Oliver Letwin
Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Francis Maude
Shadow Leader of the House Theresa May
Opposition Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin
Shadow Scotland Secretary David Mundell
Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson
Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles
Chairman of the Conservative Party Caroline Spelman
Shadow Cabinet members voting against the cut to 22 weeks were:
Shadow Chancellor George Osborne
Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers
Shadow Cabinet members who did not vote were:
Shadow Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Secretary Alan Duncan
Shadow Children, Schools and Families Secretary Michael Gove
Shadow International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell
Shadow Innovation, Universities and Skills Secretary David Willetts.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg voted against the cut to 22 weeks.
Source : Daily Mail