Thought for the day – June 4th – by Nadine Dorries MP

So, the Roman Catholic Church has gone nuclear on abortion

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As someone who currently has a bill running in the House of Commons to reduce the upper limit at which an abortion can take place from 24 to 20 weeks and to introduce a period of informed consent or cooling off period – (which is about to come back onto the floor of the House for its third reading in October, the month of the 40th anniversary of the Abortion Act), this is a position I should welcome. However, I have very mixed feelings

Where has the Catholic Church, or for that matter, any Christian Church been for the last 40 years?

The Abortion Act of 1967 was introduced to legalise abortion in order to end the back street abortion racket.

Illegal abortions were costing lives or leaving women with horrific physical consequences and infections. Something had to be done.

Pre 1967, abortion was a last resort, something a woman resorted to in the most desperate of situations. The reason being that the frightening alternative was the back street abortionist. Everyone knew someone who had a horror story to tell. Breaking the law was not something people undertook lightly either.

Today the Act is undoubtedly used as a form of contraception, and the law, as presently drafted, allows for this to be the case.

It is a fact that the law needs to be amended. However, it is also the case that the public need to be made more aware of what is actually taking place with regard to abortion within society today.

The graphic 4D images which have been put into the public domain by Professor Campbell have assisted hugely with this process.

nadinescanner.jpgThere has never been a pregnant woman who has not wished, at some stage of her pregnancy, that she had a window which she could peep through to see her unborn child. Professor Campbell and 4D screening has done just that, a miracle in itself. We can see the foetus at all stages of development to the point where we can watch a smile, a thumb being sucked, a hiccough, or even a little cry.

The reports which show that women who have abortions are three times more likely to suffer from depression later in life need to be constantly highlighted. It should be incumbent upon every GP who counsels a pregnant woman seeking an abortion to inform her of this fact.

600 abortions a day take place in the UK. This is an unacceptably high number within a civilised society. We have one of the highest rates of abortions within Europe along with the highest rates of teenage pregnancies.

Abortion has become a growth industry, facilitated and aided by the law.

The recent stance the Catholic Church has taken will assist in putting all of these facts into the public domain. I welcome the fact that it will heighten public awareness with regard to the sheer abuse of the Abortion Act and will once again push abortion up the public and political agenda.

Public opinion has recently shifted with regard to abortion, but not to the position of the Catholic Church.

The public agree that the upper limit should be reduced, that we should work to offer women alternatives, help them to think very clearly about what they are doing, and, where possible, help to provide another solution. But it hasn’t shifted so far that the public want to ban abortion altogether.

For some, the moral dilemma of subjecting women to become criminals and seek the services of the back street abortionist is as big a moral issue as abortion itself.

All this will be considered by Roman Catholic MPs when discussing the dictat of the Church.

Personally, I wish the Church had taken in the bigger picture and had tried to see that seismic change isn’t going to happen overnight. I wish they had seen that the process of reducing the daily number of abortions needs to be approached from a number of angles.

We need to address the fact that the reason why so many unwanted pregnancies occur is due to the fact that so many young people are having unprotected sex. They think it is cool to have sex from a very young age and the majority of teenage boys believe that the consequences of sex are not their responsibility.

The morning after pill costs £25 from a chemist and is only free with an appointment from a GP. This can take up to four days, rendering such a solution useless.

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If you are a 16 year old in full time education or on benefits who realises that you may be pregnant you are faced with spending £25 or chancing your luck, you will probably chance your luck.Addressing the high number of abortions which take place is not just about making statements to ban abortion.

Dramatic gestures such as withholding the holy sacrament from MPs who don’t vote to ban abortion completely will only feed and galvanise the pro choice lobby. The comments made by Cardinal Keith O’Brien make the Roman Catholic Church look extreme and out of step with public opinion.

It is Eye-catching today. However, it is ammunition for the pro choice lobby to use for a long time to come.

The pro life lobby has achieved very little since the introduction of the 1967 Act as the rate of abortions continues to increase. It is a fact that the pro choice lobby are winning the battle.

I would like to see the debate move away from the argument to ban abortion altogether and to approach the problem from a number of fronts, in a reasonable and considered manner. Free from political and religious dogma.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the Roman Catholic Church has really assisted a great deal in this process.

Maybe the Church could try knocking some big moral stakes into the ground which inform society of its position with regard to sex before marriage.

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The church could, if it were adventurous enough, once again become a force to set the moral agenda within the communities it serves. But that is much harder work than making a grand statement.Meanwhile another 4200 abortions will take place this week. Maybe if those who wish to ban abortion thought a little harder about the heartache and the tears many of those girls and women will go through this week, not all, I know, but many, then maybe everyone will try just that bit harder to find a realistic solution.

If the pro life lobby thought a little more about the pregnant woman, and if the pro choice lobby thought a little more about the baby – if everyone accepted that we don’t live in an ideal world yet, and everyone has to give a little, then maybe we might just begin to get somewhere near a solution that the majority of people who live within this society would like to see. A reduction in the number of abortions carried out each day achieved via a number of measures – a reduction in the upper limit from 24 to 20 weeks and a period of informed consent. Not ideal, I agree, but a massive improvement form where we are today.Whatever way you look at it, it boils down to the Roman Catholic Church blackmailing MPs. Almost as desperate a measure as resorting to a back street abortionist.In my limited experience MPs don’t take well to being backed into a corner or having their independence challenged. Not a good move. 

Nadine Dorries

Nadine Dorries is MP for Mid Bedfordshire

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