St Nadine the Martyr and the Hounds of Hell

Nadine Dorries appears to be in the thick of it. Insults scrawled on the fabric of her house, dismembered dolls through the letterbox and heaven knows what else. No wonder she is a little overwrought.

These, needless to say, are a ghastly and unnecessary set of campaign tactics that can only be the product of sick minds, and I wouldn’t wish them on anybody. The dismembered dolls in particular are a nasty underhand attempt to provoke an emotional response on an issue in which all our rational faculties need to be engaged. I mean, who would deliberately and flagrantly bring such a graphic and horrid image to bear on a health question of national importance? What kind of nasty individual would do that, when the lives and futures of millions of women hang in the balance?

I guess I knew when watching an aborted baby lying in a bedpan struggling to breathe, that my inability to help and my complicity as a young nurse assisting in this process, would one day force me to try to alter the barbaric practice our society has become so immune to: late abortion.

writes Nadine in the saturday Torygraph. One of the commenters is fully convinced:

Your mental imagery of the child in the bedpan, will stay with me for some time. NOTHING can justify that horror.

Evidently the shock tactic, whether it’s Nadine’s blood-and-mucus preaching or a mutilated doll in the post, works. In fact, martyrdom becomes Nadine, the readers seem to think.

Ms Dorries, I greatly admire your courage and determination. I have written to my MP urging him to vote for the reduction in time limit and he has replied assuring me that he fully intends to. I am praying about this and encouraging all my friends to do the same. May God bless your efforts.


Better to be persecuted for doing right, Nadine, than for doing wrong, as the beleaguered Prime Minister of these islands constantly, and justifiably, is. May the God of life help you in your campaign.

And lest you go away thinking that Nadine’s support comes entirely from Christian fundamentalists (perish the thought), there’s this one:

It is all big business for the private clinics …front page Daily Telegraph.

Kill 200,000 babies but not convicted murderers.

Shoot mentally disturned barristers and electricians on the Underground , but not child-abducting peadophiles.

What moral system is this ?

Bring on sharia.

As soon as I had stopped gibbering with terror at the idea that this last person is presumably allowed to roam freely in society, I started to wonder about this big business angle these people keep going on about. “Big business” was elevated to the status of a quite genuine threat to society by eighteen years of protectionist Conservative government, and is now a catch-all bogeyman responsible for Things Beyond Our Control We Don’t Like. Even Tories like Nadine now use it, so irresistable is the Daily Mail nation’s tide of opinion. It’s a shame because the more people wave pitchforks at it and shout “Burn! Burn!”, the less real scrutiny there is on those occasions when “big business” really is shafting society.

So how well does “big business” do out of late abortion? I am in the happy position of possessing both an internet connection and a brand new free OpenOffice Cal spreadsheet (looks like Excel, works like Excel, is free and legal, hoorah! I like this brave new world) so it was the work of, oh, twenty minutes to find out, because the Torygraph has thoughtfully published all the necessary stats on their Sunday leader article.

In 2006, there were 193,700 abortions in the UK. Of these, 3,000 were carried out after the 20 week marker. As Sunny Hundal has pointed out, Nadine’s official position is support for a reduction to 20 weeks, but she has contradicted that several times herself, and admits support for a potential reduction to 9 weeks, which is what she wrote on Unity’s blog. So she was presumably misquoted in today’s Telegraph (linked to above for the stats) when she said that she fully supported abortion in the first trimester (up to 14 weeks).

Anyhoo, the official position is what I’m going to tackle in the absence of any clearer direction from Nadine. First we need to deduct the small proportion of the 3,000 which were carried out on “ground E” (that there was a risk that the child would be born disabled). Apparently, there were 2,000 of these out of the original figure of 193,700, giving a fraction of 0.01. A whole 1% therefore comes off the 3,000 post 20 week abortions to bring the figure down to 2,970.

Now we need to split that figure proportionately into NHS abortions, independent sector abortions and NHS-funded abortions carried out in the independent sector under contract. The latter two segments constitute our “big business” bogeyman. 24% of all abortions were carried out by the NHS itself, so that comes off 2,970 to give 2,257 private abortions.

A bit more clicking around produces this independent sector price list from BPAS, one of the two biggest providers of private abortions along with Marie Stopes. The prices divide into medical and surgical procedures, and within those procedures there are two different prices for gestation periods of up to 20 weeks and from 20-24 weeks. We’re looking obviously at the later, higher prices, rather more than the only data the Telegraph gives of £500 for a first trimester abortion. Let’s also stick to the (higher) surgical prices because that appears to be Nadine’s main concern, judging by her imagery. So a surgical abortion between 20 and 24 weeks costs £1,690.

That gives us a total market value for late abortions in the independent sector of £3.8m in 2006.

In the same year, the UK cosmetic surgery market had an estimated worth of £528.9m.

The idea that private clinics are desperate to stop the law change to 20 weeks because they enormous fear revenue loss is patently absurd. Consider the contrastingly vast sums they earn from first-trimester abortions. Even with the cost down to around £600, and using the same figures as above, the private market for abortions before 13 weeks (constituting 89% of all abortions) is worth £77.8m. That’s more like it, I’d think, were I a cartoonishly money-grubbing private abortion clinic of the type invoked by Nadine and her followers.

There are two explanations.

(A) the whole thing is a religiously motivated witch hunt whose ringleaders are throwing any and every emotive smear they can at abortion clinics – big business kills babies for profit etc etc.

(B) this reduction to 20 weeks is merely the first offensive. The preoccupation with the “huge profits” generated by abortion looks daft alongside the late abortion market value, but makes a lot more sense in the context of the private abortion market as a whole. So the big business argument is being oiled up for full deployment in stage 2 of Nadine Dorries’ anti-choice campaign, which will be…what? 17 weeks? 13 weeks? 9 weeks? Less?

I can’t decide which is worse. Or even whether they’re mutually exclusive.


  1. Have you read Ministry Of Truth on the subject? Follow his tags “Nadine Dorries” & “Dorries”. I dread to imagine how much work he’s had to put into that research. But we’re aye glad he did 🙂

  2. Yup, they are going for the salami slice tactic, with an end goal of abortion being completely illegal. Whether Dorries realises that this is what she is being used for, or whether she’s just a convenient poster-girl in the thrall of her boyfriend and his Chritian FundaMentalist buddies is unclear, but my gut tells me it’s the second.

    She’s not the brightest star in the firmament, and I think she genuinely believes that her behaviour and her stated position of a nine week limit is perfectly consistent with the “pro choice” label she applies to herself.

  3. A+B for sure.

    Of course, if they lose this round, they’ll be back next year with “21 reasons for 21 weeks”. Aaargh.

  4. There is a simple test to work out if she is really pro-choice. She merely has to sign up to the following:
    * scrap the two-referral rule.
    * ensure easier access to “morning after” pills.
    * improved sex education, explicitly providing information about safe sex and contraception rather than abstinence.

    Does she agree to any of those things? I genuinely don’t know. My problem is I just struggle to take any politician seriously who claims that gypsies once tried to steal her for her blonde hair.

  5. “Your mental imagery of the child in the bedpan, will stay with me for some time. NOTHING can justify that horror.”

    Actually, it can be justified in that images of this kind are fucking made up. For example, the one of the “baby” reaching out, when it was actually anaesthetised like its mother, and thus unable to reach out to anything. There’s no lie these twats wouldn’t tell to bring us into their theocracy.

  6. “Does she agree to any of those things? ”

    No way, her allies are the anti-choice lobby who want to ban abortion entirely…. and rather than sex education focus on abstinence.

  7. Well, it seems that Nadine has decided to work with some rather disturbing and hateful hard line Christians in order to reach her objectives. I don’t know if you watch it, but she was featured on last nights episode of Dispatches, working with Andrea Williams, the public policy director of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship – a wonderful woman who openly states that Islam is a false religion. More disturbing is the fact that she thinks that the Earth is only 4000 years old….It’s worth taking a look at their website, as well of that of ‘Christain Concern for our Nation’ – another group that Andrea is involved with….

  8. I didn’t know Nadine was in that – I couldn’t watch that far. Honestly. It was just so disturbing. I turned off at the Sussex prayer group when all those dead-eyed middle-aged women were murmuring along like nazi nodding dogs to the prayer leader (not Andrea, I think, although she was there) who was chanting about Christ giving them the strength vanquishing homosexuals. It was like a scene from MacBeth.

    I have far less of a problem with the Rev Spitz than Nadine in a way. At least he’s come here and stated a view straightforwardly without lying about what he thinks (still talking hate-filled religio-babble, of course, but we’ll pass over that for now). Nadine lies about her sources of support and associations and uses emotive shock language to generate mass appeal from people who would shudder if they knew what these hardliners really want. Hopefully, they now do. It’s just that I don’t know how many people watch Dispatches 😦

  9. Well, I don’t know about you – but watching that rubbish made me so furious, I almost started smoking again!! It’s worth watching the end where the interviewer asks Nadine if she knows about some of Andreas views – including all the crap about Islam – didn’t seem at all bothered by it at all….Disgusting….

    Still, there are those of us who will try to do our best to do something about this….

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