23 May 2008
The second reading of the Human fertilisation and embryology bill was debated in the house of commons on 12 May 2008 and approved by 340-78 votes: Hansard column 1145. Four Cornwall MPs, Colin Breed, Julia Goldsworthy, Dan Rogerson, and Matthew Taylor voted for the bill’s second reading.
I shall follow the progress of the bill and the speeches and votes of Cornwall MPs and post information here about what they say and do.
The bill regulates research and activity about the treatment of human illnesses and difficulties in conceiving. Aspects that are contentious include admixed embryos, saviour siblings, and the need for a declared father. Abortion is likely to be raised by amendments about the legal temporal threshold (at present twenty four weeks of pregnancy) and the need for two doctors to consent to an abortion.
Let me be candid so that you can detect more easily any bias in my posting on this question. I support the bill, oppose lowering the abortion time threshold, and support the abolition of doctor consent. Research and activity that the bill allows will benefit people here in Cornwall. Abortion is a procedure that several thousand women in Cornwall have decided to use; the scientific arguments about survival into a decent life point against a lowering of the threshold which is why I wish to see it remain at twenty four weeks.
I should like to see sex education improved and contraceptive availability improved – there are reported difficulties with obtaining emergency morning-after-pill contraception from some pharmacies on occasion and these difficulties should be removed.
However, this post is primarily about Cornwall MPs not an extensive account of my views on the question. Of the several votes on the bill so far, I have selected the ones which I think are the most important.
Vote to ban admixed embryos (Hansard 19 May 2008, column 68, division 191), ban lost by 336-176 votes votes
Voted for a ban: Colin Breed
Voted against a ban: Andrew George, Julia Goldsworthy, Dan Rogerson, Matthew Taylor
Vote to allow saviour siblings (Hansard 19 May 2008, column 124, division 195), permission approved by 342-163 votes
Voted for permission: Colin Breed, Andrew George, Julia Goldsworthy, Dan Rogerson, Matthew Taylor
Voted against permission: none of the Cornwall MPs
Vote for “a father or male role model” for fertility treatment Hansard 20 May 2008, column 215, division 195), rejected by 290-222 votes
Voted for: Colin Breed, Matthew Taylor
Voted against: Andrew George, Julia Goldsworthy, Dan Rogerson
Vote to lower abortion threshold to twenty two weeks ( Hansard 20 May 2008, column 286, division 203), rejected by 304-233 votes
For twenty two weeks: Colin Breed, Dan Rogerson
Against twenty two weeks, ie for the current twenty four weeks: Andrew George, Julia Goldsworthy, Matthew Taylor
Some other votes
Threshold of twenty weeks, column 278, division 201, rejected by 332-190 votes: For Colin Breed, Dan Rogerson; against Andrew George, Julia Goldsworthy, Matthew Taylor
Threshold of sixteen weeks, column 274, division 200, rejected by votes 387-84 votes: Against Andrew George, Julia Goldsworthy, Matthew Taylor; no vote recorded Colin Breed, Dan Rogerson
Threshold of twelve weeks: Against Andrew George, Julia Goldsworthy, Matthew Taylor; no vote recorded Colin Breed, Dan Rogerson
I very much welcome the outcome of these votes and warmly congratulate Andrew George and Julia Goldsworthy, and largely Matthew Taylor, for their across-the-board progressive and liberal votes. I think most people in Cornwall will be glad too.
Original post 13 May 2008. Amended 20 May 2008 and 23 May 2008.