Push for change in law on abortion

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Indy Politics
Anti-abortion campaigners were yesterday threatening a final push for a change in the abortion laws as part of the "alternative Queen's Speech" following a ballot of MPs for the right to introduce private member's legislation.

The Pro Life Group of MPs were ready with a short Bill to change the wording of the criteria for abortion to ensure that there has to be a "serious" risk that the life of the mother would be "substantially affected" if it was not carried out.

There is no chance that such a controversial measure could be enacted as law, but supporters said it would be used to raise the issue in time for the election, and embarrass Tony Blair, the Labour leader, who has been criticised by church leaders over his anti-abortion stance.

Chris Whitehouse, secretary of the group, said: "We will be looking for a Bill to end abortion on demand and end social abortions."

The 20 MPs drawn out of the hat in the ballot were immediately bombarded with suggested Bills by government departments and lobby groups.

Only the first four in the list will be guaranteed a second reading debate. The 20 included John Ward, the Prime Minister's private parliamentary secretary, and Robert Spink, a PPS at the Home Office. The Home Office is offering three "hand-out" Bills to outlaw "sex tourism"; to close down clubs where there is evidence of drug-taking; and to introduce powers to confiscate alcohol held by under-age drinkers. The Department of Trade and Industry is also backing a Bill against mobile phone cloning.

The top 10 in the ballot were: Jimmy Wray (Lab, Provan), Barry Legg (C, Milton Keynes SW), Robert Spink (C, Castle Point), Nigel Waterson (C, Eastbourne), Audrey Wise (Lab, Preston), John Ward (C, Poole), Don Foster (LD, Bath), Nigel Evans (C, Ribble Valley), Ian Bruce (C, Dorset S) and John Marshall (C, Hendon S).

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