Or has it distracted attention from what's important?
The proposal by Nadine Dorries to make abortion counselling independent – ie, not offered by abortion providers – was defeated in the Commons this week by 368 votes to 118. Some say it was a disaster: it showed the pro-life movement at its most divided. The two MPs who proposed the amendment, Dorries and Frank Field, could not even agree in the debate. Others say the proposal itself was deeply flawed; it was not supported by either Life or Spuc.
Despite all this, Dorries has hailed it as a victory. She told the BBC: “We have lost the battle but won the war.” She had put the issue of abortion on the political agenda for the first time in years. And, more importantly, her efforts pushed Anne Milton, the health minister, into promising a consultation and then a debate on abortion counselling. Many pro-lifers are hopeful that this consultation may yet yield positive change.
So, has Dorries’s amendment helped the pro-life cause? Or has it distracted attention from a broader aim: to convince secular society of the humanity of the unborn?