Soapbox: Nadine’s Big Strop

Last week, an attempt by Nadine Dorries MP to remove counselling services from abortion providers and giving it to what were referred to as ‘independent’ providers was stopped by a vote of 368 to 118 in Westminster.

Of the Northern Irish MPs in attendance at the vote, every single one voted in favour of Dorries’ amendment. This includes SDLP MPs and Alliance’s sole MP, Naomi Long.

The argument was that it is wrong to give bodies that receive public money for carrying out abortions the task of also providing counselling on the subject, as they would have a “vested interest” in making sure abortion levels stayed the same or grew. That is to say, that current providers Marie Stopes and bpas would seek to profit out of providing abortion services.

One of the major groups that would become responsible for providing this counselling however, CareConfidential, was found by a Newsnight investigation to hold hardline Christian views.

The group, which has over 130 affiliated centres across the UK, making it the largest independent crisis pregnancy body in the UK, was found to issue the following religious statements within its training manual:

  • “Abortion is undoubtedly a wickedness that grieves God’s heart. As we study the Bible we see that life begins within the womb when the human egg is fertilised and then implanted.”
  • “The deliberate destruction of the developing child at any stage from this point is to deny the life of the human being – a most grievous sin in the eyes of God…”
  • “Because abortion involves the taking of a human life, a life that God created, it is very much a spiritual issue. It is important therefore that this work of post-abortion counselling is ‘church-based’”.

Speaking to Newsnight, former Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris said;

“There already is an existing, unbiased, professional service which is regulated and inspected by the department of health itself, which on its website warns against going to the so-called independent abortion providers who have been shown time and again through mystery shopping exercises to give distorted advice, incorrect advice and try and shame women into not seeking abortion when that’s in their interests and what they want”.

The argument for the change was that it would increase choice for women, but what has subsequently emerged is that this was merely a smokescreen for radical changes from a group of people which, seemingly, take issue with abortion.

Campaigners, for example, claimed that the scheme would reduce the number of abortions each year by 60,000 – a striking talking point rooted in the notion that people having abortions is a problem.

Further, in the House of Commons, Nadine Dorries claimed that during her meetings with David Cameron, the Prime Minister was enthusiastic of the plan and instructed Dorries to use the word ‘independent’ in describing the replacement bodies.

Given the highly religious findings from the Newsnight investigation, the group is certainly not independent, leaving Cameron’s advice as smart misdirection inferring fault with the current system and, subsequently, the need for reform.

Finally, during the debate, Dorries stood in Parliament and stated, “Like 73 per cent of the country I am Church of England, I do have Christian beliefs, but I am not sure when that became a crime”.

If we are being kind, we would say that Dorries felt persecuted for her Christianity when trying to implement a change she believed in, detached from her religion. This is a woman, after all, who has declared, “I am pro-choice. Abortion is here to stay.”

In light, however, of the replacement provider, the talking point about reducing the number of abortions, the fact that the plans would lengthen the abortion process closer toward the limit and the clear spin top Tory brass placed on the amendment, it does put her Christianity in new light, casting doubt on her true intentions and posing the question of whether her idea was founded in fact or religion.

There is growing concern amongst some Christians that they are in some way being outlawed. In reality, the issue is that these same Christians are seeking to impose their beliefs on an entire society. In doing so, they circumvent logic, morality and decency.

Regardless of what the Bible says, it would be abhorrent to give Government money to an abortion counselling service which referred to one woman’s 6 week pregnancy as a ‘baby’ and described her situation as ‘God giving her another chance’.

Further, it is outrageous that some churches deny same-sex ceremonies on the grounds that they would seek to ‘rewrite nature’ when, in reality, it is their unverified, ungrounded beliefs which discriminate against groups due to innate aspects as irrelevant and incidental as race or eye colour. Coincidentally, these aspects are not beliefs but scientific fact.

These people are ignoring fact. Let us be clear; what these people are doing is akin to denying the sky is blue, the grass green or the existence of gravity.

The argument of ‘independence’ suggests that a compromise between fact and fiction is beneficial. The UK Prime Minister was in favour of this amendment and, indeed, suggested the ‘independence’ line. If this government is going to be so adverse to fact, why don’t they just make everyone rub cats on their foreheads to reduce the deficit and have done with it? For our MPs to vote in favour of this shambles is embarrassing, shameful and depressingly predictable.

Finally, in the words of Dorries herself in an article she wrote for the Mail, “I would like to say that we have reason on our side but then, in politics, when the issue of abortion is raised, all reason seems to fly out of the whips’ office window”. Oh irony of ironies.