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Thursday 1 September 2011

Abortion Debate – Stanley’s Steamer

While the Government appears to have moved against the abortion bill amendments proposed by veteran Labour MP Frank Field and (yes, it’s her again) Tory MP for Mid-Narnia Nadine Dorries, not everyone in the anti-abortion camp has lost hope. Over in the bear pit that is Maily Telegraph blogland, Tim Stanley – who you can call because he’s a doctor – has indicated his support for a wheeze from the USA.

Stanley lets us know exactly where he stands at the outset: Dorries’ proposals are “modest”, and the opposition to them “hysterical”. But he has an answer: to copy recent behaviour from those on the right Stateside. And that means not to frame the debate in terms of religion, not to select the most pro-life candidate for the Presidency, and not to push for a national ban.

No, the new approach is to use the law in individual states to impose unworkable and unmanageable regulations on abortion clinics, preferably passed last thing on Friday afternoon and mandated to come into force the following Monday. Thus the issue becomes one of “health and safety”, thus turning the guns of those rotten lefties back on themselves.

However, before this is picked up by James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole as another excuse for a libertarian sneerfest, Stanley concedes that even this tactic – which is about as clear an abuse of the democratic process as could be imagined, together with a large dose of authoritarianism – has not succeeded, as checks and balances in the system mean a judge has intervened.

But his conclusion, to suggest that this approach makes abortion appear to be “applied dangerously, uncleanly [sic], casually and all too frequently”, should sound a warning, as should his suggestion that Dorries’ “emphasis on regulation is a brilliant first move”.

So there you have it: right leaning libertarianism is in, except where authoritarian and undemocratic solutions give the desired result. Even if the Field and Dorries amendments fall, a malign seed has been planted. Be afraid – be very afraid.

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