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Friday 28th October 2016

Delay on embryology bill criticised

11th July 2008

The decision to postpone the debate on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill for three months has been criticised by anti-abortion MPs.

Scheduling difficulties have been blamed for the delay but Labour MP Jim Dobbin and Tory Nadine Dorries suggested with the upcoming Glasgow East by-election, the government wanted to avoid an uproar.

The legislation covering stem cell research and abortion is now set to be discussed in the House of Commons in the Autumn.

Labour had allowed MPs a free vote on the more contentious areas of the debate, which had seen MPs reject a reduction in the time limit for abortions, though a new series of amendments had already been put forward for the next round of the debate.

The government was facing the prospect of a rebellion by Roman Catholic ministers, though Harriet Harman said the postponement was to allow more time for debate.

Ms Dorries, who has led calls to reduce the time limit for abortions, said she believed it was postponed to avoid alienating large numbers of Catholic voters in the constituency.

She said: “Liberalising amendments on abortion that were being championed by its own MPs were deeply unpopular with the public at large, including those in Glasgow East.”

The by-election in Glasgow East by-election on 24 July arose after Labour MP David Marshall’s resignation on health grounds.

Mr Dobbin, who is chairman of the all-party parliamentary pro-life group, said the government was handling the legislation in an “insensitive” way and said the bill would lead to enormous public uproar.


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