British Parliament Likely Won’t Consider Amendments on Abortion During Debate

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 21, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Parliament Likely Won’t Consider Amendments on Abortion During Debate

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 21
, 2008

London, England ( — The British government likely won’t consider amendments for or against abortion during the debate Wednesday on the HFE bill. Today, Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, employed a rarely-used procedural motion to limit the time of the debate on the bill, which will likely prevent amendments.

MPs on both sides of the abortion debate hoped to file amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

Some would expand abortions by legalizing them in Northern Ireland, allow nurses to do abortions or getting rid of the two-doctor requirement for an abortion to be done. Others would have limited late-term abortions.

However, because of the difficult economic news of late, the Labour-led British government doesn’t want to be seen as spending too much time debating and discussing other issues.

The motion upset groups on both sides of the abortion divide.

"This misguided political opportunism would amount to a shocking act of betrayal of women by government ministers," Ann Furedi, head of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service abortion business, told the London Telegraph.

Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP who has led the fight for limiting abortions to 20 weeks instead of 24, was also upset, and told the newspaper: "Abortion has been slam dunked straight into the long grass."

John Smeaton, the national director of SPUC, says he has no sympathy for pro-abortion MPs who will be denied a chance to expand abortions further.

"It is deplorable that [MPs] should be complaining about abortion-related amendments [not being debated] while Britain’s abortion regime continues to operate," he said. "More than 500 innocent unborn children will lose their lives in Britain today, and the amendments which those two MPs support will almost certainly increase the death toll if they are passed."

As a result of the procedural motion, it appears all debate and amendments will be limited to the bill, which allows scientists to make hybrids combining animal and human DNA in human cloning attempts.
Any human embryos created with human and animal DNA would be killed 14 days after their creation. Scientists say they want to engage in human cloning to obtain more embryonic stem cells for research even though they’ve never helped patients with diseases.

SPUC called for prayers for the prime minister and for the House of Commons’ speaker (chairman).

Ms Ruth Kelly MP, a former minister who may have resigned from the government over the embryology bill, could also defy her party’s leadership and vote against it. Friends say she will not abstain and they mention her Catholic faith as a likely factor in any decision she makes.

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