24 weeks: a victory and a warning

May 21, 2008 at 12:20 pm | Posted in British Politics, Conservative Party, Feminisms | Leave a comment
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As pro-choicers rightly bask in the knowledge that a woman’s right to choose won’t be eroded for at least the duration of this government, now is probably the best possible moment to warn against complacency. At Comment is Free, Mary Kenny argues that this debate has become far more complicated than those had during the ’60s and ’70s, with advanced photography of the reproductive process making the emotive case for restricting abortion seem stronger, even amongst those who’re sympathetic to a woman’s right to chose.

Then there’s the question of whether this issue will return to Parliament with a vengence if/when the Conservatives win the next election. There’s a strong likelihood that if it did re-emerge (and god knows Nadine Dorries hasn’t got much else to do with her time), the restrictionists would finally prevail:

The abortion time limit could be cut if the Conservatives win the next general election, according to an analysis of yesterday’s votes.

According to Philip Cowley of the University of Nottingham, a large influx of Tory MPs into parliament could lead to a reduction in the upper time limit of 24 weeks.

[…]

Cowley told guardian.co.uk: “I can’t see 24 weeks surviving a large Conservative intake at the next election. It’s one of the underlying truths that so-called free votes are not as non-party as people think.

“The majority of Conservative MPs voted for a reduction in the abortion time limit and the majority of Labour MPs voted against. The maths are pretty straightforward when there’s a large Conservative intake.”

He added: “One of the problems for the Tories’ position is that once you state the argument for viability of the child and science, the abortion time limit will only go down. It’s never going to go up again.”

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