A report from the Commons' Science and Technology Committee has called for a relaxation of abortion laws including an end to the requirement for two doctors to approve an request for termination of pregnancy. It's the main story in this morning's Telegraph.
Two Conservative MPs have produced a minority report, however, describing their colleagues' conclusions as "shameful". The S&TC claims that "there is no scientific basis, on the grounds of viability, to reduce the upper time limit." But Nadine Dorries and Bob Spink have pointed to ten recent international reports on neo-natal survival that question this conclusion and which were "overlooked" by the Committee. Nadine Dorries writes:
"The evidence quoted in the Chairman’s report relied entirely on information provided by a ten year old study and the Committee ignored the latest evidence on neo-natal survival rates from the best neo-natal centres in the UK and around the world."
If the time limit for abortion was one area of controversy, the other issue of tension was over the pain that unborn children feel or don't feel in the womb. Nadine Dorries again believes that the report was one-sided in the evidence it studied:
"There are two schools of thought on foetal pain, experts disagree and there are strong differences of opinion. The RCOG cherry picked their experts in order to agree with a pro-abortion argument. I felt it was important that MPs were aware of the two schools of thought and the nature of the conflicting evidence provided to the Committee. One school of thought believes that a foetus cannot feel pain until after 26 weeks; and the other school of thought states a foetus can feel pain below 20 weeks; unfortunately only the first school of thought was represented in the Chairman’s report."
A report in the Daily Mail targets LibDem MP Evan Harris. Nicknamed Dr Death for his zealous support for abortion and euthanasia he succeeded in ensuring that 126 of his amendments were successfully made to the report. The Mail also reports claims that Michael Martin, the Commons Speaker, blocked certain requests to disclose information about how the Committee had made its conclusions. Dr Bob Spink MP told The Mail that this meant the public had been "denied the facts".
In a short article for The Telegraph, Dr Spink offers his views on what MPs should vote for when the issue of abortion comes before the wider House of Commons:
"I will be arguing for an end to the late abortion of healthy babies; for a reduction from 24 weeks; for a tightening of abortion laws, including resisting home abortions; the retention of two doctors' signatures; clear guidance on what constitutes serious handicap; and much more support for women who must make these heart-wrenching decisions."