Abortion has been legal and easily accessible in the UK since its legalisation in 1967, and there is little public support for a change to the law. However, it’s easy to get complacent – laws can be overturned by shrewd and well-funded campaigns without any public support. The Conservative Party, beneath its new “progressive” makeover, still harbours what remains of Britain’s religious right.
Nadine Dorries MP is working hard to challenge Britain’s 24-week abortion limit – her initial strategy is to propose a cut to 20 weeks, but some Tories (including the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt) are angling for an even more draconian cut to 12 weeks. This Wednesday, Dorries will introduce a debate into the Commons on reducing the term to 20 weeks.
I won’t go into the detail of the pro-choice argument here, but the important difference between 20 and 24 weeks needs to be made clear: some tests on the health of the foetus can only be done for the first time at 20 weeks. Some parents-to-be face a heart-wrenching decision after 20-weeks, as to whether to continue with a pregnancy when defects have been detected in the foetus. The vast majority of non-medical abortions will take place within the 20-week timeframe; reducing the limit from 24 weeks would most affect those people who intended, prior to the 20-week scan, to continue the pregnancy to term. To remove this choice would be an incredibly cruel act.
Dorries claims (dishonestly) to not be a fundamentalist on sexual issues, but the company she keeps is revealing. She is very close to the right-wing Christian fundamentalist Andrea Williams of Christian Concern, as shown in the video below. Williams holds a variety of extreme views, and yet thanks to Dorries, enjoys access to the Houses of Parliament. The British dislike religious fundamentalism, but we shouldn’t rest on our laurels; fundamentalists are already in parliament, and trying to reverse hard-won progressive victories in the field of sex and sexuality.
Please watch and share the video: