Abortion, HFE Bill, Nadine Dorries amendment alert

// 26 June 2008

A colleague has just informed me that Nadine Dorries MP has again used the HFE Bill to table another amendment to the Abortion Act to restrict access by lowering the time limit to twenty weeks from twenty-four.

The Bill has finished its second reading and is awaiting a date for the Report Stage. Evan Harris MP has tabled two amendments to expand abortion rights and my colleague believes that Nadine Dorries has issued her amendment as a reaction to force another debate at the third reading of the Bill.

While the Commons would likely try to dismiss her amendment as it has already voted on it, we could face a situation where the House of Lords says that another debate is warranted because the issue is not resolved, sending the Bill back to the Commons. If it gets to the point where the two Houses start to ping-pong, each sending the Bill back to the other, the Bill schedule could be disrupted. If this happens, the whole Bill would be at risk and everything that has already been agreed could be undermined.

It all seems very unlikely to me, but I don’t know enough about it. Do others?

Progress of Bill dates here.

Comments From You

Shea // Posted 26 June 2008 at 6:36 pm

Dorries– when will she get the message. The people have spoken, the time limit should stand, that is what democracy is about. Not trying to shoehorn her own repugnant agenda in at every available opportunity. [edited]

Marina // Posted 26 June 2008 at 7:07 pm

Would her GP prescribe this sick person some medicine already, please. It is amazing how one person can annoy the hell out of everybody.

Jess // Posted 27 June 2008 at 12:25 am

I’m pretty sure that this should be thrown out, because MPs have already voted on the issue. I’m not that familiar with the procedures of Parliament, but I would certainly be surprised if this was possible. She’s just doing it for publicity, presumably….

@Marina – Um, argh. Yes, she’s very annoying, but I really find your choice of words a bit unfortunate.

Anyway, being a right wing extremist is not actually an illness – I think that is a very troubling idea.

Dave Cole // Posted 27 June 2008 at 10:39 am

Dorries’ amendment is at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmbills/120/amend/pbc1202506a.2843.html.

It would add a new clause, reading

‘In section 1(1)(a) of the Abortion Act 1967 (c.87) (medical termination of pregnancy), for “twenty-fourth week” substitute “twentieth week”’.

I’ve just spoken to the Commons Information Office – there’s no date set for the amendment yet. However, I think that raising the issue is, technically, in order as the debate would be on the report stage, which includes Lords’ amendments.

I think it’s unlikely that the amendment will pass unless it comes up on a quiet day in Parliament when lots of MPs are, for one reason and another, elsewhere.


Aimee // Posted 27 June 2008 at 4:08 pm

I’m confused! Why is this back? I thought it had already been decided? Surely this shouldn’t be allowed to be an issue again?

Sarah // Posted 27 June 2008 at 4:44 pm

This particular issue *never* seems to go away, it’s very tedious.

Anne Onne // Posted 27 June 2008 at 6:09 pm

The worrying thing is, with the Conservatives likely to win the next election, it’s only a matter of time before she gets her way, seeing as the majority of conservative ministers voted to reduce the limit.

But I’d at least hope for a moment’s peace. *sigh*

Marina // Posted 27 June 2008 at 10:33 pm

Jess, come on. She lives in the world where apparently new alternatives to abortions exist. Is that not a symptom? :)

Aimee // Posted 28 June 2008 at 12:56 am

Yes, it’s worrying that the conservatives are doing so well in polls and whatnot. The rammifications for the feminist movement won’t be very good, I don’t think.

zohra moosa // Posted 28 June 2008 at 11:32 am

@Marina, I agree with Jess. Name-calling doesn’t expose why Nadine Dorries’ reasoning is faulty/problematic and is also not conducive to our conversation on how to make sure the amendment, and any others that are tabled in the future, don’t succeed.

Dave, thanks for calling the office to check up on the progress. I get nervous when the only thing stopping something retrogressive coming through is a reliance on enough MPs showing up… 42 days anyone?

Matthew // Posted 2 July 2008 at 2:55 pm

Just to clear up some confusion in this post and comments – report stage is simply debating any changes made at the committee stage and any new amendments, no Lords amendments; and any amendments can be proposed at report stage.

The House of Lords cannot say that “another debate is warranted” – all they can do is agree or disagree with the amendments made by the Commons and propose their own amendments in lieu. So if this amendment fails, they don’t do anything. If it passes, they either have to accept the change, or vote against it and send it back to the Commons. You get things like this: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2007-10-24b.1130.3

Dave Cole // Posted 7 July 2008 at 12:37 pm

The report and third reading will take place on 14th July.

Matthew // Posted 11 July 2008 at 12:31 am

“The report and third reading will take place on 14th July.”

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