You recently voted for Nadine Dorries MP as your favourite parliamentary blogger. Up until now the relatively new Cornerstone blog has been a pretty plodding affair (all posts have the same ‘Thought for the day’ headline and there is no option to leave comments) but the MP for Mid-Bedfordshire appears determined to liven things up with her post of today.
Her post is a response to Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s much-reported homily of last week (full text here). In his homily the Cardinal said that the arguments for David Steel’s forty year-old Abortion Act amounted to a pack of lies:
"We were told that backstreet abortions were killing women and had to be decriminalised. We were told abortion would only be used in extreme cases. We were told medical scrutiny would be rigorous. We were told a lies and misinformation masquerading as compassion and truth. The scale of the killing is beyond our grasp. In Scotland we kill the equivalent of a classroom full of school children every day."
Although Nadine Dorries offers some kind words to Cardinal O’Brien – welcoming the attention his remarks will bring to the "unacceptably high number" of abortions – she is largely unimpressed.
Towards the end of her piece she accuses the Roman Catholic Church of
essentially "blackmailing MPs" and compares this to "as desperate a
measure as resorting to a back street abortionist." [Nadine is referring to the Church’s warning that elected officials who support abortion might lose the right to take communion.] If that comparison
will offend Catholics she also misses some of the Cardinal’s
arguments. She writes:
"Personally, I wish the Church had taken in the bigger
picture and had tried to see that seismic change isn’t going to happen
overnight. I wish they had seen that the process of reducing the daily
number of abortions needs to be approached from a number of angles."
Although absolutist in his opposition to abortion in a way that few
people are, the Cardinal does actually concede that there are imperfect
interim steps that should be taken to save some lives:
"There is much we can do. We can urge support for
legislation which may not be perfect but improves the situation,
legislation aimed at reducing abortion limits or bills ensuring that
parents be informed if their children seek an abortion, can be
supported as long as it is made clear that one is in principle against
all abortions. Proposals to ensure women contemplating abortion are
given full details about the physical and emotional risks to themselves
and about foetal development should be backed."
Nadine Dorries’ own ‘right to know’ legislation
fulfils some of the Cardinal’s hopes. It attempts to steer a course
between the ‘right to choose’ and ‘right to life’ lobbies. Neither
lobby fully supports this approach but few observers can really dispute
her arguments for a cooling-off period between a pregnant woman going
to see her doctor and actually being granted an abortion. During that
cooling off period the woman would be provided with information about
the foetus and her pregnancy.
For me the challenge is to understand that these issues are now largely
cultural rather than legislative but to understand the tutorial
importance of legislation. The challenge to all those who care about
the unborn is not to be anti-abortion alone but to be genuinely
pro-life. A pro-life creed will oppose racism, discrimination against
disabled people, sex trafficking of human beings, third world hunger…
all examples of innocent life being treated callously. George W Bush
got it right in his first inaugural: "No insignificant person was ever