What’s sauce for the Goose…

If Nadine Dorries can play this game then so can I:

madnad.jpg

Nadine Dorries MP. Conservative. Mid Bedfordshire. Majority: 11,355 (for now)

Nadine has systematically lied about and misrepresented the current state of medical and scientific evidence relating to abortion in an effort to advance an unscientific and disingenuous argument in favour of restricting legal access to abortion in UK, adopting tactics that originated amongst hard line anti-abortion groups in the United States, tactics which were designed to attack the Supreme Court Ruling in Roe vs Wade.

When she not busy spreading misinformation, she enjoys smearing her opponents.

Highlights in Nadine’s campaign include:

The revival of a long debunked anti-abortion hoax relating to a photograph taken during surgery on a 21 week old foetus to correct a spinal lesion (i.e spinabifida).

Dorries supports a claim made the photographer that the anaesthetised foetus reach out of its mother’s exposed uterus to clasp the hand of the doctor performing the surgery and that the doctor who carried out the surgery said that ‘it was the most emotional moment of his life and that for a moment he was just frozen, totally immobile.’

What the doctor, Joseph Bruner actually said about the photograph was:

“Depending on your political point of view, this is either Samuel Armas reaching out of the uterus and touching the finger of a fellow human, or it’s me pulling his hand out of the uterus … which is what I did.

Dorries still believes the photographer and responded with this comment:

Why would he say that? The pro-choice and pro-life lobbies in America are far more vociferous, and unfortunately violent, than they are in the UK; and one can only guess his reasons.

An overview of the validity of Dorries’ reference to ‘pro-choice’ violence can be read here and contrast the ‘evidence’ for this alleged phenomena with the documented record of violence by anti-abortion activists in the US, a record which includes 7 murders, 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats and 655 bioterrorism threats.

And a false accusation, published in a parliamentary report, which alleged that unspecified members of Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee passed information on a witnesses’ testimony to the committee, during its review of scientific evidence relating to abortion law, to a journalist, Dr Ben Goldacre in advance of the witness appearing before the committee.

As Goldacre point out in response to this allegation:

My article did indeed contain detailed information about Prof Wyatt’s evidence, but I suspect any enquiry set up to examine how I managed to obtain that information would finish its work well before the first set of tea and biscuits arrived, since all the facts came from the written evidence published openly and in full during the select committee hearing. There’s nothing clever about what I do, let me promise you.

Dorries, whose blog allowed comments at the time, received a number of comments similar to this one from readers of Goldacre’s column/blog:

Chris Rodger said…

I have posted this on Nadine Dorries blog:
You make a serious allegation against the Guardian and by implication the journalist (Ben Goldacre) that wrote the piece. Yet as he explains here (http://www.badscience.net/2007/10/oooooh-im-in-the-minority-report/#more-561), he based his article on published information.
You should either justify why you have de facto accused him of “a breach of parliamentary procedure” or apologise and withdraw the comment.

October 31, 2007 10:09 AM

Dorries didn’t withdraw her remarks, she withdrew the comment facility on her blog with the claim that:

No More Comments
Posted Thursday, 1 November 2007 at 00:00

I am no longer going to post comments on my blog.

Please don’t send any more comments – It’s a time thing, I don’t have any.

I have to rely on the patience of others to read and post the comments for me. I am never in front of a computer for more than a couple of minutes at a time and this has now made reading the comments before they are posted impossible.

Knowing that there are comments on my site which I may not even have had time to see, makes me uncomfortable.

It’s more of an ‘I got caught out thing’ that left her feeling ‘uncomfortable’

And Dorries is still at it, making the following claim in the article linked at the start of this piece:

Barbara Follett is the founder of Emily’s list, which provides financial help and assistance to women wishing to become Labour MPs. In order to receive funding they have to support Labour party values, and be pro-abortion.

This means that any potential candidate of faith, ie, Jewish, Christian, Sikh, Muslim or Hindu would not qualify, which makes the list discriminatory.

Which is, of course, complete and utter rubbish and a total misrepresentation of the complexity of religious attitudes towards abortion:

There is no mention in the Christian Bible about abortion, and at different times Christians have held different beliefs about abortion. For example, St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope Innocent III, and Pope Gregory XIV believed that a fetus does not have a soul until “quickening,” or when a woman begins to feel her fetus kick and move. Abortion before quickening was, therefore, acceptable. However, Pope Stephen V and Pope Sixtus V opposed abortion at any stage of pregnancy.

Historically, Fundamentalist (Evangelical) Protestant denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention supported abortion rights. It was not until 1980 that fundamentalist Protestants began to organize in opposition to abortion.

At this time, the Eastern Orthodox, Mormon, Fundamentalist Protestant, and Roman Catholic denominations are against abortion. However, some of these denominations make exceptions in their doctrine for abortion performed to save the life of the mother, and in cases of pregnancy as a result of rape or incest. Roman Catholics make no exceptions, arguing that the way conception occurs makes no bearing on the quality of a potential life.

Mainline Protestants, such as Episcopalians, Methodists, United Reformed, Quakers, those in the United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalists, and Presbyterians are generally pro-choice. Many of these denominations are members of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (US).

So that’s a fair few Christian denominations in, now what about Jews?

In Judaism, views on abortion draw primarily upon the legal and ethical teachings of the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the case-by-case decisions of responsa, and other rabbinic literature. In the modern period, moreover, Jewish thinking on abortion has responded both to liberal understandings of personal autonomy as well as Christian opposition to abortion. Generally speaking, traditionalist Jews firmly oppose abortion, with few health-related exceptions, and liberal Jews tend to allow greater latitude for abortion.

Looks like they’re okay depending on how orthodox they are in their views, maybe Nads will have more luck with Muslims:

Among Muslims, the prohibition against abortion depends from case to case. In the case where the woman’s life is threatened by the pregnancy, Muslim jurists agree that abortion is allowed based on the principle that “the greater evil [mother’s death] should be warded off by the lesser evil [abortion].” In these cases the physician is considered a better judge than the scholar.

Muslim scholars differ on when life begins. The medieval scholar Al-Ghazali writes that life occurs “when semen is injected into the womb where it merges with the ovum and becomes predisposed to receive life.” 120 days is often seen as the point at which a fetus becomes fully human. This has been described as an angel coming and “breathing life into the fetus.” Before this time, the fetus lacks a human soul, and is considered on the same level as plants and animals. Thus Hanafi, Shafi and Zaydi schools of thought permit abortion, though they hold that it is still makruh (detested by God) without a good reason.

On the issue of the life of the mother, Muslims universally agree that her life takes precedence over the life of the fetus. This is because the mother is considered the “original source of life,” while the fetus is only “potential” life.

Some Muslim scholars also argue in favor of abortion in early pregnancy if the newborn might be sick in some way that would make its care exceptionally difficult for the parents (eg. deformities, mental retardation, etc). Some scholars argue that abortion is allowed for important reasons on the first 40 days. Sheikh Nasr Farid Wasil extends this period to 120 days. Ikrima Sabri, the Grand Mufti of Palestine, gave a ruling that Muslim women raped by Serb men during the Kosovo War could take abortifacient medicine.

Nope, not quite the full 24 weeks but not an absolute prohibition either, so what about Hindus and Sikhs?

Hindus hold varying stances on abortion. Some Hindu institutions oppose abortion, and teach that abortion prevents a soul in its karmic progress toward God. However, some Hindus have found that abortion, especially the abortion pill, is a major step towards women’s empowerment.

———

Although the Sikh code of conduct does not deal directly with abortion (or indeed many other bioethical issues), it is generally forbidden in Sikhism because it interferes in the creative work of God. In Sikhism, it is accepted that life begins at conception (see page 74 of the Guru Granth Sahib). Conception having taken place, it would be a sin to destroy (abort) life.

Despite this theoretical viewpoint, abortion is not uncommon among the Sikh community in India, and there is concern that the practice of aborting female embryos because of a cultural preference for sons is growing.

Doctrinally Sikhs look about the most promising but that still presupposes a significant degree of orthodoxy and strict doctrinal observance, which is far from guaranteed.

No, the claim that Emily’s List is discriminatory against any ‘potential candidate of faith’ is another of Nadine’s fabricated smears.

Nadine is a former nurse (three years experience some 25 years or so ago) and claims to have taken part in abortions, including allegedly ‘botched’ abortions – any information that might validate this claim (or otherwise) will be gratefully received.

She has also claimed, on at least one occasions to be ‘pro-choice’ – although her idea of ‘choice’ when making that claim was a nine week upper limit on abortions.

Dorries was, for 12 months, in 1998 a director of BUPA, which currently operates eight hospitals providing abortion services in England.

  • JamesK

    Mad Nad’s intellectual bankruptcy, scientific illiteracy and duplicity are becoming increasingly irritating. I might even get a blog and start writing about it, among other things, single issue and attack blogs are somewhat unpleasant.

    I am becoming increasingly intrigued by where the 72% figure that she repeatedly quotes actually comes from. Nad notes that it comes from several polls, but doesn’t name any. You don’t think she is resorting to the
    “lurkers support me in email” gambit, do you?

    Good blog btw

  • Nice one, Unity. I have a similar argument over at my place.

  • Dave:

    One of the best expositions of the shifting sand of Christian opinion on the beginnings of life is actually in the ruling in Roe vs Wade. If you’ve never read it, its worth looking up as a masterpiece of judicial thinking.

    JamieK:

    Her figures come from a poll for Life by ComRes, which is a respectable enough polling company. However if you look more closely, the poll is constructed in an extremely leading manner and they’ve run the same poll for four years running, refining the questions and ordering each time to load things further in their favour.

    It’s actually very well done if rather transparent if, like me, you understand how opinion polls and surveys can be easily manipulated to favour particular outcomes.

  • JamesK

    Was that the poll they conducted on May 4th 2006?

    I agree that the questions posed were extremely leading, but I can’t actually find the 72% figure on anything that remotely looks like supporting reducing the time limit on abortions from 24 weeks to 20 weeks (or less).

    The closest I could find is Q5 Do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about abortion?
    – Aborting a baby at six months pregnancy is cruel

    to which the numbers agreeing were total:76% men:72% women:81%

    http://www.comres.co.uk/comRes/resources/7/Parliamentary/Abortion%2006.pdf p21

    Is this the same poll you were looking at?

  • I’ve emailed Nadine to ask which poll she is using. In the meantime, Roe v Wade has been added to my reading list.

    I’m not sure that those figures do come from Communicate Research; in one of her speeches, she cited the 72% as being from a different survey.

  • JamesK

    Having done a little research on Nad’s speeches in the commons, the only time she has mentioned the 72% figure in the house she hasn’t mentioned which pol the figure has come from, although she does mention a lower figure from the ComRes poll.

    “It is now also a matter of public opinion, because there is now a huge movement by the general public towards wanting to see a reduction from the upper limit

  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we previously discover that Dorries’ blog is taxpayer-funded? Surely this direct attack on Labour MPs daring to have a different view to hers contravenes that fair use policy which excludes them from party political sniping or otherwise.

    Either way, I do hope that Dorries will also be targeting the female Conservative MPs that doubtless disagree with cutting the limit just as she is currently doing to female Labour MPs. It would be rather unfair if she didn’t, wouldn’t it?

  • JamesK

    Nads being partisan about smearing those who oppose her point of view, perish the thought 😉