Abortion will be on the Commons’ agenda today as Tory MP Nadine Dorries MP introduces a Ten Minute Rule Bill concerning terminations of pregnancy (BBC and Nadine’s own blog).

The Conservative backbencher declares herself to be in favour of a woman’s right to choose but wants a reduction in the number of abortions.  The TMRB has no chance of becoming law but Nadine Dorries is committed to using other parliamentary opportunities, including Westminster Hall debates, to draw public attention to the issue as part of a concerted, long-term campaign. 

BabyToday’s TMRB enjoys the support of former Tory leaders Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard.  It has three components:

  1. A reduction in the abortion time limit from 24 to 21 weeks.  The 21 week limit reflects the latest scientific evidence on foetal sentience (the unborn child’s response to pain and sound) rather than viability (the unborn child’s likelihood of surviving outside of the womb).  The image on the right is of an unborn child of 24 weeks.  More images and a movie can be seen here via the orange/ brown link on the Create Health website.
  2. A full-informed consent to abortion after a cooling-off period – ‘a woman’s right to know’.  Nadine Dorries: "Such a cooling-off period is necessary, because the decision to terminate a pregnancy or not is one with which the woman concerned will have to live for the rest of her life. It is imperative that this decision is fully considered, and that all the necessary help and advice is available for her to make an informed decision. This part of the bill is designed to enforce a woman’s right to know.  There is no pressure on a woman to decide either way. The woman does indeed have the right to choose. The cooling-off period gives her this time to reflect on her decision. It is also a time when parents, partners, boyfriends etc will have to stand back and give the woman time to reflect."  This is at the heart of the TMRB and where introduced in other parts of the world has produced significant reductions in the number of terminations.
  3. Timely access to abortion once a woman has made a "fully informed and empowered decision" to terminate her pregnancy.

Download brief PDF guide_to_Nadine_Dorries’_TMRB.

Endnote: 187 to 108 MPs reject Nadine Dorries’ attempt to amend abortion laws – BBC