A couple days ago, the UK was on the brink of its biggest prolife victory in 40 years. A bill brought forward by Fiona Bruce MP was debated last night in the House of Commons. The bill aimed to clarify existing laws on abortion, making abortion on the grounds of gender illegal. There has been growing concern about the practice of sex selective abortion within minority communities. These communities are more likely to engage in the practice for cultural reasons. This means that female foetuses are disproportionately aborted. Minority community leaders and groups like Stop Gendercide came out in support of the bill and urged constituents to write to their MPs.
Prior to the vote, Fiona Bruce received support from 100 MPs across parties. But, within the week leading up to the vote, pressure against the bill increased. The Trade Union Congress came out against the bill, thinking it would ‘divide communities,’ and advised Labour MPs to vote against it. When it came to the vote, Labour MPs were whipped. This means that if any shadow minister defied the leadership, they would have to resign.
The bill was defeated by 91 votes.
This is a disappointing loss for the prolife movement in the UK. For once, a cross-party bid to protect the unborn was looking as if it would pass into legislation. Since the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act, nothing of the sort has come so close. The vote also followed a recent decision to allow for the creation of three parent children.
But, all is not lost. It was agreed that a review of evidence on gender selective abortion in the UK will take place. This means that the conversation will continue and change is still possible. Discussion about gender and abortion are key to the pro-life feminist cause.