Fathers not needed, say MPs, and abortion law stays as it is

Doctors will no longer be required to consider a child’s need for a father when providing IVF, and the upper time limit for abortion will not change, the House of Commons has decided.

The controversial votes took place on Tuesday 20 May, as MPs debated key issues in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in a Committee of the Whole House.

Page anchor link icon Breakdown of votes

The Bill contains measures to remove the requirement for doctors to consider a child’s need for a father when providing fertility treatment. Sadly, an amendment tabled by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith to block this move was defeated.

Mr Duncan Smith said: “It is as though we are saying to couples, especially in the heterosexual world, that fathers are less important than mothers and that, therefore, they do not need to be considered.”

Although MPs were given opportunities to lower the upper time limit for abortion to 12, 16, 20 or 22 weeks, none of the amendments were passed, in spite of evidence that more and more babies born before 24 weeks’ gestation now survive with specialist care.

MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, Nadine Dorries, who has led a campaign to reduce the limit to 20 weeks, told the House of the botched abortions she witnessed as a nurse:

“A little boy was aborted into a cardboard bedpan, which was thrust into my arms. When I looked into the cardboard bedpan, the little boy was gasping for breath through the mucus and amniotic fluid. I stood by the sluice with him in my arms, in the bedpan, for seven minutes while he gasped for breath. A botched abortion became a live birth, and then, seven minutes later, a death.”

Edward Leigh MP

Edward Leigh MP tabled the 12 week amendment.

Edward Leigh MP, who put forward an amendment to reduce to the upper time limit for abortion to 12 weeks, compared the pro-life campaign with that of William Wilberforce as he fought to abolish slavery.

“Wilberforce fought against entrenched opposition, moneyed interests and a world view according to which some people were not fully human,” Mr Leigh said.

“We know that we are up against it tonight; we know that the pro-choice lobby dominates the establishment, and that we are talking about a multi-million-pound industry, but for all that, we feel that our voice has to be heard.

“It is not perhaps the voice of the leading members of the medical establishment, or the voice of the majority in the House of Commons, but it is the voice of many people in our country, and the views expressed by that voice have to be put on record.”

Full results

Monday 19 May 2008

Amendment to ban creation of animal-human embryos:

Ayes: 176 | Noes: 336How MPs voted

Amendment to ban creation of saviour siblings:

Ayes: 163 | Noes: 342How MPs voted

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Amendment to require doctors to consider a child’s need for a father and a mother before providing a woman with fertility treatment:

Ayes: 217 | Noes: 292How MPs voted

Amendments to lower the abortion time limit to:
12 weeks

Ayes: 71 | Noes: 393How MPs voted

16 weeks

Ayes: 84 | Noes: 387How MPs voted

20 weeks

Ayes: 190 | Noes: 332How MPs voted

22 weeks

Ayes: 233 | Noes: 304How MPs voted

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