Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 12:46
The Guardian interview and science v values
Posted Thursday, 28 July 2011 at 20:52
Earlier this week I was interviewed for the Guardian. One of my team was against this citing endless column inches of evidence that the Guardian were 'out to get me' due to my position on abortion.
It was hard to argue against the evidence, both in print and online. Now this may seem surprising to some, however, despite the fact that the Guardian are obviously opposed to my position on abortion, I have come to respect the fact that they generally refrain from hysterical, personal bile, unlike some.
The reporter was courteous and professional and I think we respected our differences of opinion however; we stumbled awkwardly over the usual misinformation. I think she thought I was a pro-life catholic, found it hard to believe I had witnessed a late term abortion (I have assisted in a number as a nurse and spoke about one experience extensively during the 2008 abortion debate) and when we spoke about my passion to reduce the upper limit from 24 – 20 weeks, I am sure she felt that my reason for wanting to do this was influenced by religion and not science, rebutting my claims of foetal sentience with a statement that there was only one report which claimed that a foetus could feel pain in the womb post 20 weeks gestation.
After she left, I sent her this by Dr Martin Ward Platt, who supports the upper limit as it is, but argues that a foetus can feel pain in the womb under 24 weeks
His report was in response to this..
At the foot of this report there are links to others and there are plenty more where they came from. But it’s all about science. Which is about the definition of fact. Which facts are indisputable and which are not. There are as many 'facts' as you wish to choose from on both sides of the argument.
I have chosen the 'fact' I wish to believe. It’s up to those who don’t believe a foetus in the womb can feel pain to test their facts and prove that it can’t and that is the issue, it cannot be proven. Science is about testing until the facts are indisputable and absolute. There is enough evidence to suggest a baby could feel pain, pretty compelling actually, for me to be of the opinion that if if there is any element of doubt, shouldn't the decision whether or not to abort at 20 weeks be a value based decision? If the scientific evidence either way cannot be proven 100% we have to ask what kind of society are we?
As Martin Ward Platt states;
Over the last 20 or more years, researchers have accumulated good observational, experimental and pathophysiological reasons to consider that babies at these gestations do feel pain, that they benefit from analgesia, and that pain experiences in early life cast neurophysiological and behavioural shadows far down childhood.
Late abortion procedure now caters for the fact that a foetus can feel pain. This is why Drs wont perform a late term abortion until the baby has first been injected with a lethal injection into the heart whilst in utero and then left for long enough to ensure the injection has worked before operating.
So scientists, you can't have your cake and eat it. You cannot claim a foetus doesn't feel pain and therefore there is no basis to reduce the upper limit, but introduce an abortion process which acknowledges the fact that they do.
Are the Guardian 'out to get me’? Are my staff right? Will the Guardian run yet another ‘Britain’s Answer to Sarah Palin’ headline? Time will tell. Maybe Saturday will be a team win day!
Anyone who had a heart?
Posted Wednesday, 27 July 2011 at 16:00
We had a message into the office this morning. It read; “Is it true that the Sunday Times have sent that hideous woman who interviewed you and Sally Bercow, to Norway to cover the disaster? Are they mad?”
My first response of course was, why would I care? The ST can do what they like!
But the email also included a tweet taken from Camilla Long’s Twitter account, and then I got it.
'Morning of outrages. Queue-jumping woman first thing and now £6.30 for a fucking coffee'.
Can you imagine for one moment what would happen if an MP had written that Tweet upon landing in disaster struck Norway to cover the tragic loss of young lives? It would be a miracle if they survived the furore which would ensue.
Hello Norway, welcome to the charming Camilla Long, she’s come to interview your grieving parents, sisters, brothers..
Another Tweet states..I am DISGUSTED by intrusiveness of cameras on Utoya esp Sky News just now. Barely pixellated pictures of teenagers in bodybags = WRONG
Really? And what exactly would Camilla Long, Sunday Times journalist whose own speciality is blowing apart the reputations of well meaning individuals be doing in Norway then? We are all pretty sickened by the media right now. I have been slightly shocked by the reaction of some of my constituents. I thought the reaction to Hack-Gate had been confined to the Westminster village. Not so. I have lost count of the people who have told me they will never again buy a paper with their hard earned cash.
Was it beyond the ability of the Sunday Times to send a compassionate journalist with some intellect? Who could have left the foul language and hypocrisy behind? Or even sent one who had a heart?
It would appear so.
Lies to the left..
Posted Monday, 25 July 2011 at 11:59
Why do the left have to lie so much in order to make their case?
In both of the following articles, Laurie Penny writing at the New Statesman and The Socialist Worker Online deliberately portray my amendment to provide independent counselling as something which is compulsory, which is a deliberate lie as they will both have read the amendment and subsequent articles very clearly indeed.
I will say it again, for the umpteenth time;
It will be compulsory for a doctor to offer a woman presenting with a crisis pregnancy the option of independent counselling; she can take it or leave it. No compulsion whatsoever, however, to those women who may be feeling slightly vulnerable, it may be a lifeline. What decent person would deny any woman that?
Death and Beauty
Posted Saturday, 23 July 2011 at 23:11
As I listened to the radio this morning, the extent of the tragedy which had unfolded during the night on the Norwegian island of Utoeya, was not easy to take in.
When you are a mother of teenagers and young adults, it isn’t difficult to touch the edge of horror when you fleetingly imagine yourself in the shoes of a bereaved parent. But no mother lingers there for long and I am no exception.
An hour later I walked in the sunshine through beautiful countryside. My Labrador and I skirted along the perimeter edge of yellow fields of freshly cut wheat and barley. I listened to John Rutter on my ipod and was hugely lifted by this track http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaMkj4_H8WM which helped me to appreciate the beauty which surrounded me, be thankful for all I have and to say a prayer for those parents who will find it difficult to see anything good in this world today, or possibly, for many days to come.
Stand by your man
Posted Wednesday, 20 July 2011 at 10:30
As I popped into the Chamber early this morning to put my prayer card in place for The Prime Minister’s statement and the debate which will follow, I was struck by a stark contrast.
The photo to the left is one of the Conservative benches where all the early bird MPs have piled in to secure their seats in order to support our leader by putting our little green prayer cards in place.
The photo to the right is of the Labour benches. Not a single prayer card in place.
There are two conclusions to be reached here;
a) Labour are still in bed.
b) They aren’t that fussed about supporting Ed.
N.B. I have probably breached some awful security rule here by posting these photos. Still, I took them sans-shaving foam so I should be ok.
Posted Tuesday, 19 July 2011 at 00:12
According to a report published by the information commissioner, What Price Privacy Now? The News of The World journalists were, relatively speaking, the good boys and girls. In fact, it would appear that paying police officers for information, blagging and hacking are widespread practice in the world of journalism.
There is no doubt that as each day passes those individuals who know they have done wrong will feel slightly more nervous.
When the arrest of the first police officer for having accepted money for information takes place, Hackgate will unravel like a ball of wool at the paws of a kitten.
A police officer in prison serves his time in solitary confinement, for obvious reasons. As a former Home Secretary explained to me the other day, every police officer faced with that situation does everything he can to mitigate his circumstances and shorten his time behind bars.
If a police officer sold information to one journalist from one paper, he will very likely have sold information to others from other titles.
It will take one arrest of one police officer for the squealing to begin.
Bedfordshire Police Federation
Posted Friday, 15 July 2011 at 10:10
Bedfordshire Police came to London this week to talk about the cuts and how Bedfordshire will be affected.
Bedfordshire has already been through a phase of re-structuring and the way it has been handled has been pretty impressive.
One of Bedfordshire’s main problems in the past in terms of cost has been its high rate of absenteeism, that has now been tackled and the figures are greatly improved.
However, a 20% cut will test the capability of those having to find and deliver the service in Beds to the limit.
When the country is paying £120 million per day in interest alone on the debt we inherited from Labour there is no alternative but to cut.
New technology will help. Police spend many wasted hours hanging around courts waiting for offenders who never turn up to give evidence. New video links in stations will mean an end this as officers will be able to give evidence directly to the court involving no travel or waiting.
I am confident that in Bedfordshire the cuts will be well managed and, overall, the government will reach its o objective to put 8,000 extra officers back onto the front line. However, I am, along with other Bedfordshire MPs, writing to Theresa May to request that, in light of the re-organisation Bedfordshire has already been through, she can take another look at our unique situation.
The Guardian - Comment is Free
Posted Thursday, 14 July 2011 at 15:50
Suzanne Moore is a fantasist
Posted Wednesday, 13 July 2011 at 13:56
The future is?
Posted Tuesday, 12 July 2011 at 12:39
I am awaiting something I have written to appear on Comment is Free and will link when it is up.
After a few very busy days, I will also have a very interesting blog to post shortly. However, in the meantime, the conversations in Parliament are fascinating with regard to hackgate and I have to say, the scenario is rather scary.
One MP has just told me that almost every tabloid political journalist of any note and a considerable number of Police will end up in prison and that this will make MPs expenses look like nothing by comparison. Buying a lampshade on a second home allowance doesn't really compare with illegally accessing the medical records of a poorly little boy or deleting messages from Milly Dowlers phone.
Cranmer has posted a blog
today which highlights a report produced by the Information Commissioner that until now had been overlooked and lists the newspapers who had previously been identified as engaging in illegal activity.
I suppose if a Police officer sold information to one newspaper, he was just as likely to have sold it to another and will probably volunteer that information in return for a reduced sentence.
Will the media be as ruthless with themselves as they were with MPs I wonder?
Damian McBride and Smeargate.
Posted Monday, 11 July 2011 at 16:29
I have just been informed that the 'smeargate' emails which were leaked from No10, when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister, and involved communication between Derek Draper and McBride re a plot to smear George Osborne, David Cameron one other MP and myself were obtained by News International via hacking into Damian McBrides computer.
Damian McBride confessed and resigned. Gordon Brown apologised in Parliament.
A rational report
Posted Sunday, 10 July 2011 at 16:29
The Sunday Times
Posted Sunday, 10 July 2011 at 10:12
A very funny story in the Sunday Times today about a meeting I had with the Minister, Ed Vaizey, and representatives from Google during which I wanted to know how to deal with some of the totally illegal, malicious and untrue information posted about me on the internet on varying sites and in various forms, mainly by pro-abortionists, given that the normal reporting process had failed.
The Sunday Times is behind the paywall and I'm not sure of the legality of copying onto my blog, I've done it once but don't want to risk my luck.
Here's some I have lifted..
'Google said the MP had wanted to know how “illegal” content could be reported and insisted that the company had not stepped in to change the ranking of search results. '
“If an MP asks for a meeting I’m happy to facilitate that,” said Vaizey. “I said [to Google], ‘Would you meet Nadine Dorries to explain how search works?’ I would absolutely have done that for a Labour MP.”
The funny part is that I also had a very nice lunch over at Google, played in the totally amazing Google earth pod (which now goes under the ocean) and I think even posted a picture of it on my blog. The Sunday Times missed that!
However, what is interesting, is that in the week when the power of the fourth estate quietly slips back in through the doors of Parliament and into the hands of the democratically elected MPs the newspapers are full of 'anti MP' stories. Is this what the future holds?
Name in vain
Posted Saturday, 9 July 2011 at 23:35
House of Cards
Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 16:24
Last year I spoke in a debate regarding The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) and I made the following comments...ahem...
9 Sep 2010 : Column 493 Nadine Dorries (Mid Bedfordshire) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) on enabling us to debate this issue. I also congratulate the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Mr Watson) on an excellent speech. I felt that he stepped into the realms of poetic licence when he described journalism as "a living hell", but I thought that almost everything else he said was absolutely accurate.
I support the motion for a number of reasons, not least the fact that it is possibly our fault-the fault of the House-that the media were allowed to reach a point of arrogance whereby, in pursuit of a sensational headline in order to sell newspapers, they believed that they were above the law, could flout the law, and could adopt the unlawful procedures that have been adopted in this instance. I imagine that that does not apply only to the News of the World. The News of the World has been caught out, but how do we know that every newspaper is not acting in the same way? How do we know that our phones are not being hacked into at this moment by other newspapers?
I think that referral to the Committee is important because-I would hope-the Committee would then make a number of recommendations, including the recommendation that the media should no longer be allowed to be self-regulating through the Press Complaints Commission. It is because they have been self-regulating and we have been emasculated as politicians, afraid to say anything that condemns them, that the present situation has been allowed to arise.
Freedom of speech and the ability to hold a private conversation is the right of everyone in the land, and it has been paid for with human life. It is being paid for with human life today. Although it is almost surreal that we are discussing this matter, that is why we must discuss it, that is why the matter must be referred to the Committee, and that is why there must be a serious review followed by recommendations. Only a review and recommendations will prevent this situation from arising again, and, perhaps, curtail the actions of the media and change the way in which they behave.
During the same speech, I described the PCC as a ‘toothless tiger’.
In amongst all the sensationalism of the NOTW story today we appear to have forgotten who the PCC is there to protect. It’s not politicians like me or the celebrities who tend to use expensive lawyers anyway, but the average British citizen who is written about in local papers up and down the land on a daily basis.
The Press Complaints Commission is and has been for almost all of its existence the most incestuous and corrupt organisation. Corrupt because it takes its crust from the hands of the newspapers themselves in a banana republic manner which is glaringly out of place in 2011 Britain.
Have you ever read a newspaper report which has complained about the PCC or questioned its practice or appalling record? Has any newspaper ever considered the PCC code or in layman’s terms the list of reasons by which it will accept and act upon a complaint?
There is a strong case to be made that if the industry had been better regulated the less appalling the situation would have been today.
Over and over and over MPs stand in the House of Commons and complain about the PCC and similar organisations such as the FSA. Both are woefully inadequate and failing in their duties to protect individuals.
If we have learnt anything over the last few days it is that Parliament still matters, that what happens on the floor of the Commons can trigger a reaction which can have momentous consequences.
The doors of the PCC should close today. A new independent authority should be established with no one or anyone imbued with the old culture anywhere near.
The lack of monitoring or censure over the years has allowed a wholly unedifying method of acquiring stories and information to develop.
In the meantime, given that paper sales have fallen by as much as 20% over the last year the overall impact on all newspapers will be profound.
Whether by associated damage or as a result of the fact that if the Police were selling stories to the NOTW they were surely selling them to all newspapers, we may see the papers we all know today fall like a house of cards.
Iain Dale's new blogazine
Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 11:53
Iain Dale has launched a great new blogazine today http://iaindale.com/
My contribution is under policy.
Good luck Iain.
Posted Wednesday, 6 July 2011 at 12:42
This afternoon will be spent in the chamber in a three hour debate on the phone hacking scandal.
The printed press have seen sales slide by as much as 20% over the last year. It is interesting today, that those papers which have covered the NOTW hacking crisis have not offered any opinion or judgment, just factual reporting. I say interesting in as much as journalists are usually full of opinion, a bit like MPs. They are the first to criticise and hold to account in ways which are both robust and explicit, anyone, from Katie Price to the Queen, they deem to have erred from the path of righteousness.
I'm not sure how they think the general public will respond to this, but it wont be well.
The Times Story and a row
Posted Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 20:49
This has been lifted directly from the Times - just as news reaches me that someone at the Times is furious the story ran and is re writing the research to provide a pro-abortion perspective. Really? Is this true? Can we trust any newspaper anymore?
Women who have had an abortion are more likely to give birth to a premature baby and to suffer several other pregnancy complications when they next conceive, new research has suggested.
A major study that looked at more than a million pregnancies in Scotland over 26 years has revealed that women who have had one termination are 34 per cent more likely to have a premature birth than those pregnant for the first time. Their chances of pre-term delivery are 73 per cent higher than women having a second baby, who are known to have a lower risk of preterm delivery.
The risks of prematurity increase sharply with more than two abortions. One in five women who has had four terminations will give birth before 37 weeks, compared with fewer than one in ten women who have had only one, according to preliminary results from the University of Aberdeen.
Women who had surgical abortions were 27 per cent more likely to have preterm births than those who had medical abortions with drugs, which are more common earlier in pregnancy. The study also linked a previous abortion to slightly higher risks of stillbirth and pre-eclampsia, a blood pressure disorder that can itself lead to pre-term delivery and occasionally threatens the lives of mothers and infants.
The findings will add to controversy over the health implications of abortion as the House of Commons prepares to debate an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill that would give women who want a termination a legal right to independent counselling.
Sohinee Bhattacharya, who led the research, said women considering abortion should be told about the link to pre-term birth, though she cautioned that the vast majority can still expect a normal healthy pregnancy.
“I think that it’s something that should be brought to the notice of women, but the absolute risk isn’t large,” she said.
As the risk of pre-term delivery in a first pregnancy is about 6 per cent, the overall risk to women who have had one abortion is still less than 10 per cent, so more than 90 per cent will not give birth prematurely.
Some or even all of the effect, she added, could be explained by risk factors such as smoking, age and lower social class that are more common among women who have abortions, and which are also causes of preterm birth. The study did not control for the effects of smoking, a major cause of prematurity, because of insufficient data.
“The risk factors that are present in women who go for a termination are also the same risk factors that are responsible for preterm delivery,” Dr Bhattacharya said. “The group of women who have a termination are also possibly the same group of women at highest risk for pre-term delivery.
“The other possible explanation is the method of termination. Surgical terminations had a higher risk of pre-term delivery than medical terminations, so it could be that trauma to the opening of the uterus could result in some kind of damage that possibly results in increased risk.”
The risks of prematurity are also similar following both abortion and miscarriage, suggesting that similar effects may be responsible. Women who have had an abortion were also less likely to have an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage than those with a previous miscarriage.
Preliminary results from the research, led by Dr Bhattacharya and Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya, were presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Stockholm yesterday. The work has not yet been published or peer-reviewed.
The study examined the Scottish Morbidity Records for all women in the country aged 15 to 55 who had two pregnancies between 1981 and 2007. They identified 171,208 women who had a second pregnancy after an abortion, 6,098 who had a second pregnancy after miscarriage, 458,337 who had a second pregnancy after a live birth, and 458,339 women pregnant for the first time.
Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: “Several studies have shown a small increased risk of pre-term birth after abortion, but it is often very difficult to control for all the other factors which may put these women at risk of pregnancy complications anyway — such as being older, more likely to smoke, or being more socially deprived.
“However, we are interested in the suggestion that women who have had an abortion are at no greater risk of delivering a subsequent pregnancy prematurely than those who have had a miscarriage, and indeed are less likely than these women to go on to have a miscarriage.
“These are early results, and we look forward to reading the study when it is published in full.”
Josephine Quintavalle, of the ProLife Alliance, said: “This is the most compelling evidence to date of the health impact of abortion on future pregnancies. Whatever one’s position on the ethics of abortion, it is more than obvious that alerting patients to the very real and incremental risks of future miscarriage should now be an essential part of informed consent protocols.”
Tony Rutherford, chairman of the British Fertility Society, said: “It is important to put into perspective that the overall risk to women who have had a termination of having a complication is still extremely low. But there is, perhaps understandably, an increased risk following instrumentation to the uterus. It is good to get data like this because it allows us to counsel our patients accordingly.”
· The Government released figures on late abortions after a High Court ruling yesterday. Data showed that there were 147 terminations carried out after 24 weeks during 2010. It also showed that 66 late terminations were due to problems with the nervous system, such as spina bifida. The ruling followed a challenge by the Department of Health.
Separate research has suggested that women who have had an abortion are 34 per cent more likely to give birth to a premature baby. A study found that women who have had one termination are 34 per cent more likely to give birth prematurely than those pregnant for the first time, according to the research by the University of Aberdeen.
Putting the focus on adoption
Posted Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 10:31
The front page story in today’s Times here(£) regarding changes to the adoption laws in the UK echoes what I have been saying for a while now , for example here and here.
The number of prospective parents wishing to adopt far out-strips the numbers of children and babies available. Increasing the numbers of children put up for adoption could go some way to increasing the number of happy families in the country, reducing the numbers of unwanted and unloved children and reducing the number of abortions carried out in this country without in any way restricting access to the procedure.
While work will need to be done to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place, this is an example of a small change in policy that could have wide reaching positive effects for a great number of vulnerable women and children. With that in mind, I find it difficult to believe that some people allow an ideological stance to oppose such a progressive change.
A big well done to Martin Narey for tackling this issue head on and keep up the good work!
Posted Monday, 4 July 2011 at 08:13
The Sunday Telegraph
Posted Sunday, 3 July 2011 at 00:25
The lies on the left
Posted Saturday, 2 July 2011 at 17:25
If the left can only put their argument regarding the plans to offer women seeking abortion independent counselling by telling the most outrageous lies, then it is a very revealing prism through which we view their actions.
If their argument is the right one, why can’t they tell the truth?
The Socialist Worker Party online put out this nonsense last week
The key lie being;
“Poverty tsar” for the government and Labour MP Frank Field, along with Tory Nadine Dorries, want to force women seeking abortions to have compulsory counselling.
I believe the same lie has been repeated by the Guardian at some stage.
I will say it again, the compulsion will be on the GP to offer counselling, the woman has no obligation to accept that offer.
The counselling would be available within days. Given that there is around a two week wait for an abortion, there would be no delay to accessing abortion. Counselling will be no more compulsory after the amendment is accepted than it is today. But it will be fairer and no organisation with any financial benefit from the decision a woman takes will be able to help her reach that decision.
I will make my intention clear again as reported in the Guardian this week.
"My intention is for vulnerable women to have access to the best possible care as quickly as possible. For counseling to be optional, independent and to present no delay whatsoever to the abortion process."
And as for Diane Abbott who is rapidly losing all credibility, she has stated that ‘women should be consulted before this change is made’.
The general public was consulted before my attempt to reduce the upper limit at which abortion takes place. They wanted the reduction. Labour women stopped it from happening. Since when have Labour listened to women or the public?