Bill hijacking by the abortion lobby

On Monday, amendments which would have legalised abortion on demand failed to pass through the House of Commons. In this blog we reflect on the tactics of the abortion lobby.

Bill Hijacking 101

  1. Understand the composition of the House of Commons by testing your support with a private members bill which you know wouldn’t pass but can be put to a vote.
  2. If the vote on the private members bill shows you have support for your cause, get down to work to identify a government bill which will pass.
  3. Lobby your parliamentary supporters to ensure they are still on your side.
  4. Hijack the government bill with amendments, which may have nothing to do with the said bill, but which will get majority parliamentary support.
  5. Presto! You have passed a law without having to be in the Government or needing public support.

This was the tactic used by the Westminster allies of the abortion industry last year when they hijacked the Northern Ireland Executive Bill, which had nothing to do with abortion, to impose abortion on Northern Ireland. A key author of the amendments, Diana Johnson had done her homework. She had consulted with the largest abortion provider, BPAS and the abortion rights advocate, Amnesty International and with their help drafted a 10 minute rule bill, to “decriminalise” abortion. The bill when tabled in parliament in 2018 received significant majority support. The abortion lobby had spotted an opportunity with the most anti-life parliament ever and decided to capitalise on it. They needed a government bill which was sure to pass. They set their sights on the Domestic Abuse Bill but since that was taking too long, they then decided that if they had majority support why not just hijack any Government bill. So less than a year after Ms Johnson’s private members bill, the Northern Ireland Bill was targeted with sudden amendments which had nothing to do with the bill. All that was needed was an amenable speaker and a supportive parliament; they had both. The rest is history with Northern Ireland, which had previously rejected abortion, having one of the most extreme abortion laws in Europe.

This year Ms Johnson and her political acolytes tried the same tactic. Test the waters with a private bill and then hijack a government bill. The tactic failed on Monday. They had tested the waters with Rupa Huq receiving significant majority support with a 10-minute-rule bill to ban demonstrations outside abortion clinics. So why did they fail on Monday?

As much as we would like to think that this was simply down to significant lobbying efforts by our pro-life movement, the following were the two major factors at play on this occasion:

  1. You see, Bill Hijacking 101 requires a willing Speaker. Unlike his predecessor, the current speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle was having none of it. So he rightly and objectively dismissed the attempt by Diana Johnson to amend the Domestic Abuse Bill to “decriminalise” abortion in England and Wales. Ms Johnson had promised to do this after her success with last year’s hijacking. But this was a different speaker.
  1. This was a different parliament with many new MPs. Ms Johnson and the abortion lobby had incorrectly assumed that their support which held up during Rupa Huq’s bill would be rock solid for Monday’s planned hijack. It wasn’t. In fact many of the MPs supported a period of public consultation to decide whether Ms Johnson’s amendment for home abortions to be made permanently legal, should be accepted. Faced with the prospect of defeat, Ms Johnson agreed to have the consultation and withdrew her amendment.

So what’s next?

When you fail “Bill Hijacking 101” you have the opportunity keep trying for five years. So we can expect the following:

  1. Try bill hijacking in “the other place” i.e the liberal House of Lords. The House of Lords took the Northern Ireland abortion amendments in last year’s hijacked bill and made them even more extreme. So we must prepare for potential abortion amendments when the Domestic Abuse Bill goes to the House of Lords for scrutiny.
  2. The abortion lobby will prepare their multi-million-pound campaigns to try to ensure the public consultation on home abortions goes their way.
  3. They will then lobby the Government to make home abortions permanent.
  4. Other private members bill will come up to test the political support the abortion lobby has in parliament.
  5. They will try again to hijack another government bill to remove abortion from the law.

What should the prolife movement do?

  1. Recognise the tactics of the abortion industry and its allies.
  2. Unite on a common lobbying platform inasmuch the same way as the abortion industry collaborates and works together to pursue their common objectives.
  3. Debunk the rhetoric of abortion being necessary healthcare for women and show the need to protect women and their unborn babies.
  4. Make our collective voices heard in the corridors of power. Educate MPs, especially our new ones, about the need to protect women and unborn children.
  5. Stay vigilant to avoid sudden moves like the successful hijack of the Northern Ireland Bill last year. Being vigilant means identifying the abortion lobby’s tactics early and being persistent in standing against them.

If you are from the abortion lobby and reading this blog, we want you to know that we know your tactics and intentions. We also want you to know that we will challenge you at every point. To our prolife friends, we know you share our passion and desire to be the voice for the vulnerable and voiceless. Never before has the threat to unborn human lives and the exploitation of women, been greater. We must stand together and trust that we will succeed in this battle to save lives. Thank you for your ongoing support.

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