Anyone else feeling physically sick?

// 20 May 2008

After watching Nadine Dorries and her fundamentalist Christian lawyer sidekick Andrea Williams on Dispatches last night, I am feeling absolutely sick to my stomach about the potential for anti-abortion amendments to be passed today. From the programme it looked like much of Dorries’ political propaganda on this issue was written in conjunction with or by Williams, a woman who believes that the world is only about 4000 years old. Great. Just fucking great. Why can’t they keep their bloody “morals” and religious mumbo jumbo to themselves? The sooner the UK follows France’s example and officially separates church and state, the better, as far as I’m concerned. Seriously, these people scare the crap out of me.

Dorries’ blog informs us that Labour have got a three line whip on to ensure MPs attend the chamber and vote tonight, and they are under a lot of pressure to support the current time limit since Gordon Brown came out in its favour. Hopefully the desire not to give Cameron yet another reason to rub his Tory boy hands in glee will be enough to make those Labour MPs who aren’t either way inclined vote in support of women’s right to choose…

Oh, and Dorries can shut the hell up about the bloody “European average” of 13 weeks. This is generally the cut off point for women accessing abortion on demand, something women in the UK are unable to do. Abortion is still available after this point. More here.

Comments From You

Anne Onne // Posted 20 May 2008 at 3:31 pm

Bit rich of her to go on about the European average when technically the vast majority of abortions here also happen before 13 weeks, even though women here have to find two GPs who aren’t from the stone age and will graciously allow them to have control over their own bodies, and wait who knows how long to get it on the NHS.

We don’t even have abortion on demand here, and we can equal Europe and their averages, so how does that make the UK the most liberal with abortion laws? We still have to ask GP permission (Hey, Dr. if you don’t want me to abort, can I get you to carry it and raise the kid?) and make women go through a million hoops to make ourselves feel better about events that have nothing to do with us.

And if Britain’s so darn liberal, and women are so lucky to have all the (far too numerous!) freedoms they have here, how come we’re having a vote where pro-lifers are trying to reduce the limit to as little as 13 weeks, against both scientific knowledge in the area, and the advice of the British Medical Association and the Commons Science and Technology Committee.

If they really are pro-choice, but just want to reduce the limit, what limit will ever be low enough for them? Ah, that’s right, no abortions past 0 weeks (And I bet they’re barely pro-contraception either. ). They should be honest then, and admit outright they are against all abortions. There’s something inherently suspicious about having people who don’t believe any abortions should be legal voting on the time limit, because they clearly couldn’t care less about the wellbeing of women, or what would happen to the foetuses ‘saved’. Don’t want abortions? Don’t have them. But get out of the way and let other people live their lives.

Wow, now I do feel queasy. I was relieved enough to find out they didn’t ban science today, but this is what I’ve really got my fingers crossed for.

Sarah // Posted 20 May 2008 at 3:47 pm

Does the ‘European average’ include countries like Ireland and Poland, because if so, this would seriously skew the statistics!

Also if her true concern is to ensure abortions take place as early as possible, surely the best way is to work towards improving access in the early weeks and removing unnecessary restrictions. Not introducing more obstacles, then punishing the relatively small number of women who need an abortion later. Of course that is probably not her intention at all, for such people this is just one step on the road to banning abortion altogether.

Lucy // Posted 20 May 2008 at 3:55 pm

The more Dorries says the more obvious it is that there is no logic to her plans, and that she’s just trying to stir up a bit of attention for herself.

I spoke to my (historically pro life) MP last week and she was actually pretty reassuring. She insisted that the government was in touch with majority of public opinion, which of course is that there’s no need to change to time limit.

Holly Combe // Posted 20 May 2008 at 5:18 pm

I agree with Anne Onne and Sarah about the possible motives of those who vote to lower the time limit and I certainly don’t think Dorries and co actually give a damn about whether women get access to abortion at all. I find it truly appalling -but nonetheless unsurprising- that many of those who would happily punish women for apparently late decisions seem to be doing absolutely nothing to try and make a late decision less likely (i.e genuinely push for abortion on demand). After all, they’re safe in the knowledge that we already have a system that encourages women to wait too long for an abortion and realise that lowering the time limit will simply make it even more difficult to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. I’m sure they know only too well that the usual system of faffing about pushes women with unwanted pregnancies nearer to the cut-off point. Indeed, I’d say that’s the idea.

I suspect we’d find these anti-abortion campaigners perfectly comfortable to see women being routinely persuaded to take time to think about their decision for as long as possible and I don’t think that will change one bit if the limit gets lowered.

If Nadine Dorries and co get their way (and it makes me shudder to think it could happen), they had better expect an ongoing and sustained campaign to make access to abortion easier and quicker… The trouble is that even gaining the right to abortion on demand “on paper” straight away would not help everyone. There would still be women with abusive partners potentially controlling their continuation of the pregnancy, women who genuinely hadn’t realised they were pregnant until later (eg: due to to continued monthly bleeding or false negatives in pregnancy tests) and women for whom a severe problem with the pregnancy or their health was not diagnosed until later. These are just a few examples…

IMO, lowering the limit is just a way of making sure that more babies are born, even if they’re unwanted. In an already overpopulated world, I’d say that’s pretty immoral.

yeomanpip // Posted 20 May 2008 at 5:20 pm

Someone did mention to me about a documentary about the rise of Christian Fundamentalism in the UK.

I haven’t seen it (not sure if it’s been shown).

But this post, and those words “The rise of….” DOES make me feel a little sick.

Are we likely to see the same kind of ‘Christian Ethics’ that they have in the USA?

God, I hope not!

Tulip // Posted 20 May 2008 at 7:40 pm

I watched it. Andrea Williams was a joke. Her response to any questions that were even remotely challenging were to switch off her mike or refuse to talk about it. Pathetic. However, the highlight of that show was that angry Christian leader who was ‘blessed’ by a sea gull on camera. Brilliant! For anyone who missed it, you might be able to get it on Channel 4’s ‘On Demand’ service.

Lucy (a different one) // Posted 20 May 2008 at 8:12 pm

I work for a pro-choice Labour MP, and we’ve been ringing round other MPs today to make sure our vote turns out. The response has been very positive, although I won’t relax until the result has been announced. Fingers crossed…

Catherine // Posted 20 May 2008 at 9:12 pm


I passionately (and loudly) support the right of women to have terminations, and think it ought to be truly on demand rather than the current muddy compromise (insult?) of finding 2 doctors. I’m also a Christian.

It pains me when I see people relating a pro-life stance to their Christian morals. Actually, I think it has more to do with some people wanting to believe they are ‘superior’ by telling others what to do: I’ve never heard a convincing argument for a pro-life perspective, whether faith-based or not. Some high-profile Christians have a lot to answer for by giving the impression that an anti-abortion perspective is a central part of faith. It’s not. Maybe they get a kick out of the power. Rather what should be central is respect and care for each person and group.

BUT it worries me when any section of society is characterised as a homogenous group of irrational women-haters. There are people from all religions and none who might fall into this category.

As feminists we know what it is to be hated. The greater the mud-slinging on each side, the harder it is for real communication. It’s easy to attack but it polarises people, and makes them more entrenched in their views.

If we’re to avoid a US-style ‘moral’ battle, then both sides have a responsibility for dialogue. There’s greater strength in combining the efforts of everyone who is pro-choice (secular and those with faith), rather than supporting those who would divide us.

Sam // Posted 20 May 2008 at 9:15 pm

Unfortunately. The people supporting the reduction of the time limit are morons. If someone has a headache do you limit their access to aspirin? No. I say open your minds people. You want to prevent late term abortions then deal with the cause not the cure. In order to reduce the 24 week limit all they would need to do is :

1) End male violence and attempted control of women.

2)Increase female empowerment and promote confidence in young women to love themselves.

3)Improve access to birth control and early termination methods.

4)Improve sex eduction.

5)Educate men to respect women.

6)Improve the reporting and conviction of rapists.

7)Improve flexible working hours for women.

8)Equal pay for women. Perhaps for paying them for all the work they do outside of their “job” which saves the country billions, e.g. cooking , cleaning, caring for the elderly, etc.

9)Proving support for women to get out of violent relationships or get off alcohol/drugs.

If they are able to do all this and more then they can help eradicate the need for the 24 week limit. Until then, don’t keep trying to shut the barn door after the horse has bolted.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 20 May 2008 at 9:36 pm

Catherine, I’m glad you posted. I do think that a lot of Christians must be feeling very misrepresented by the vocal andti-choice fundamentalists and I do think it’s important for non-religious feminists to remember that not all Christians or religious people are fundamentalist or are anti-choice, anti-gay etc.

Is there any groups called Christian’s for Choice or something like that? If there were, it would be great to see them on protests. I do feel that the anti-choice camp presents themselves as the only ones with religious faith and this sets up a divide which is not necessarily helpful.

That said I did see the documentary last night and it was horrifying! :-/

Sarah // Posted 20 May 2008 at 9:52 pm

Catherine, there’s ‘Catholics for a free choice’:, which is probably the sort of thing you’re thinking of. No doubt there are other Christian groups supportive of choice as well, but this is the one I’m aware of as an ex-Catholic myself.

Laura // Posted 20 May 2008 at 11:23 pm

Hey all,

I do recognise that of course there are Christians and other religious people who are pro-choice, and I’m sorry that my hasty posting made that unclear. However, I do stand by my belief that religion should be separated from politics.

Philomela // Posted 20 May 2008 at 11:53 pm

That whole documentary disturbed the hell out of me, I cant belive they are teaching creationism as science, I think these people are really dangerous. I grew up in a faith community like the ones featured and I think they are dammaging to everybody

Lynsey // Posted 21 May 2008 at 1:59 pm

I wrote a blog about this is anyone is interested in reading it… it’s slightly erratic though because I was so angry!

yeomanpip // Posted 22 May 2008 at 5:38 pm


Thanks, although I still havent seen this documentary, it does worry me that fundemantalism could happen here.

I’d also like to thank Catherine for posting, because ‘normal’ christians will have to suffer the fundementalists as much if not more than non christians.

If, that is, it does get as bad as America.

Steph Jones // Posted 8 June 2008 at 3:56 pm

I don’t think Nadine Dorries comes even close to Iris Robinson MP!:

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