Friday, May 23, 2008

abortion debate

This bears quoting verbatim; sorry it's not much fun:

Proof that Tories never change their spots
Kira Cochrane

Thursday May 22, 2008


Under David Cameron the Conservatives have been trying to shake off their reputation as "the nasty party". Now that Dave and his recycled trainers are pounding along out front, the thinking goes that the old-fashioned, puritanical, often bigoted party of yore has been replaced by progressive, caring, sharing people who can guide us safely through the maelstrom of modernity.

Anyone sucked in by this guff should take a closer look at the votes cast by Tory MPs in the past few days with regard to the human fertilisation and embryology bill. Having criticised the repeal of Section 28 in 2000, Dave has more recently changed tack, and gone to some pains to present himself as a protector of gay rights - supporting gay marriage, for instance. Yet this week, he voted in favour of Iain Duncan Smith's amendment to the bill, which would have compelled IVF clinics to consider the "need for a father" before allowing lesbian women to start fertility treatment.

Then there's the stance taken by the Conservatives in their votes on abortion. Only two shadow cabinet ministers voted to keep the current 24-week time limit - despite the fact that this was backed by the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, not to mention all those who believe that women have a right to choose. Eighteen shadow cabinet ministers voted to reduce the limit to 22 weeks. Cameron actually voted to bring the limit down to 20 weeks, and while an amendment to reduce it to 16 weeks was trounced - rejected by 303 votes - of the 84 MPs who voted for it, 61% were Tories. The mood was summed up in a comment by Tory MP Edward Leigh, who proposed a 12-week limit, that "in modern Britain the most dangerous place to be is in your mother's womb". The majority of Conservative MPs voted for a reduction in the time limit and the majority of Labour MPs voted against, which means that, if the Tories get in at the next election, women's rights will face a battering. A progressive, modern party, fit for the 21st century? On this evidence, most definitely not.

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