Fiona Bruce MP pleased as controversial extreme abortion amendments to Domestic Abuse Bill fail.
Two controversial amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill failed before even being voted on in the House of Commons this week as it became clear they would not succeed.
New Clause 29 which would have resulted in the most significant change to abortion law in 50 years was rejected by the Speaker - he deemed it ‘out of scope’ before the debate even began.
New Clause 28 proposing an extension of the temporary emergency provisions for the provision of ‘at-home abortion pills’ during the current coronavirus crisis went to debate before being withdrawn by the MP who proposed it when it became clear during the course of the debate, after several powerful speeches highlighting the dangers of women taking ‘at-home abortion pills’ received by post, without a face-to-face private meeting with a clinician - that it did not command the support of the House.
As the debate went on, with many strong contributions highlighting the dangers of the proposals in New Clause 28, it became clear to MPs in the Chamber of the House of Commons, that if New Clause 28 was put to a vote, the proposers of this clause risked a serious defeat.
Speaking after the debate Fiona Bruce said “I was very pleased that endeavours by some MPs singularly failed to hijack the Domestic Abuse Bill – a very worthy Bill in its own right – but completely inappropriate to have tagged on to it proposals that would have introduced the most significant and disturbing changes to our abortion laws in fifty years.
I would like to thank everyone who wrote to me – over 70 constituents expressing grave concerns about these amendments proposed to the Domestic Abuse Bill and asking me to oppose them. Only two constituents wrote to me seeking their support. There is no great call in our country for our abortion laws to be liberalised further, and there is certainly no call whatsoever, apart from on a tiny extreme minority, to see our abortion laws changed so that abortion is allowed for an unborn child up to birth for any reason – or no reason – at all. It seems inconceivable that this could be suggested, and yet this is what the Head of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service – an organisation the MPs who brought forward these New Clauses to the Domestic Abuse Bill worked with – has said “I want to be very clear: there should be no legal upper limit.”
Further to an amendment to New Clause 28 by Fiona Bruce, commitment was won from Government to review the current temporary measures before further action is taken regarding ‘at-home abortion pills’.
Fiona added “It is to be hoped that this Government review and consultation will properly and fairly highlight safety concerns around the taking of ‘at-home abortion pills’ – currently temporarily permitted during lockdown - which have been highlighted in recent press reports. These pills should be taken up to ten weeks only but there have been several reports of home abortion pills being taken at gestation weeks well beyond ten – one as far on as 28 weeks – medically dangerous for the woman involved, and where the baby sadly died. This was four weeks after the legal limit for abortions in this country of 24 weeks (apart from some exceptions) and 18 weeks after the legal limit for an at-home abortion pill.”
Fiona Bruce MP said “I, along with many colleagues, am very relieved that these proposals did not pass into law. I received a vast number of emails from extremely concerned constituents about these proposed changes. They would have put in place some of the most relaxed abortion laws in the world but also, crucially, could have seriously undermined protections for pregnant women suffering from domestic abuse. I now look forward to the outcome of the consultation.”
The whole debate, including Fiona Bruce’s speech, can be found at – https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2020-07-06/debates/CEAE6941-5DC8-4F76-9377-3DE3ED0F3553/DomesticAbuseBill - you may also be interested to read the speeches from the MPs for Belfast East (Gavin Robinson), Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), Upper Bann (Carla Lockhart) and Rother Valley (Alexander Stafford).