How Lib Dem MPs voted in the abortion debate

55 Lib Dem MPs took part in last night’s crucial Commons vote on whether to reduce the current 24-week limit on abortions to 22 weeks (the closest vote of the night). In what was a free vote, a majority of the party’s MPs voted against any change to the current law. Here’s how they lined up:

The following 23 Lib Dem MPs voted for 22 weeks:

Baker, Norman
Barrett, John
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Annette
Burt, Lorely
Hancock, Mike
Horwood, Martin
Hughes, Simon
Hunter, Mark
Laws, David
Mulholland, Greg
Pugh, John
Reid, Alan
Rogerson, Dan
Rowen, Paul
Russell, Bob
Stunell, Andrew
Teather, Sarah
Webb, Steve
Williams, Mark
Williams, Roger
Willis, Phil
Younger-Ross, Richard

The following 32 Lib Dem MPs voted against 22 weeks:

Alexander, Danny
Brake, Tom
Bruce, Malcolm
Burstow, Paul
Campbell, Menzies
Carmichael, Alistair
Clegg, Nick
Davey, Edward
Featherstone, Lynne
Foster, Don
George, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Harris, Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hemming, John
Holmes, Paul
Howarth, David
Huhne, Chris
Keetch, Paul
Kramer, Susan
Lamb, Norman
Leech, John
Moore, Michael
Opik, Lembit
Rennie, Willie
Smith, Robert
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Matthew
Thurso, John
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny

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  • RedOnTheTrain 21st May '08 - 8:32pm

    I’m surprised so many voted for a reduction in the limit as the medical evidence for doing so is very questionable. Is there any recorded incidence of any of these MPs coming out against abortion entirely, whether through religious belief or otherwise that would help to contextualise the figures?

  • Well, Greg Mullholand, John Pugh and Bob Russell were the only 3 Lib Dems to vote to reduce the limit to 16 and 12 weeks, so the rest are likely not against abortion entirely.

  • time to map these votes against other social issues (civil partnerships, gay adoption) and see whether we have any social conservatives lurking in the parliamentary party.

  • John, I think that’s been done several times, already. If I can remember correctly, at least Colin Breed, John Pugh, Paul Rowen and Bob Russell were among the … less social liberally inclined. (See The Public Whip if you need evidence.)

    I’m a bit dissapointed, though, that some MPs who have had a full score in voting for individual liberty so far voted with them this time. But maybe they had some good reasons for their decision, which my imagination just isn’t sufficient to fabricate.

  • Bob also voted to keep the age of consent for homosexuals and anal sex at 18, and to keep cannabis class B. Also against the sexual orientation equality laws. He appears to be our most “conservative” MP.

  • “I agree Nich Starling. It’s the woman’s body & life, not mine or yours or anyone else’s but hers.”

    Funny, I thought that the point of abortion was that there was another life. Otherwise, what’s the point?

  • Surely the issue is that this always has been a matter of personal conscience – unlike gay rights (or other human rights issues)?

    It’s why the two David’s – Alton and Steel could remain on the same bench for the best part of 20 years (until Alton’s Catholic guilt drove him mad).

  • A free vote shouldn’t be followed by a lynch mob, what are some of you saying?

  • What did anyone say that makes this comparable to a lynch mob?

    A free vote means the party doesn’t run a line. It doesn’t mean members can’t express a view or, goodness, criticise an MP.

  • Sure criticism is fine, but because it was a free vote what do you hope to gain by attempting to hold them individually to account?

    Our party should be proud to have more accurately reflected the opinion of the house and the wider country than either of the other parties, whether we agreed or disagreed on any of the specifics.

  • I think this is a genuinly difficult issue for MPs of all parties.

    Only a minority appear to beleive that either all abortions should be illegal, or that there should be no time limit.

    That leaves the majority supporting some time limit, which is essentially a pragmatic position, based on balancing a number of factors.

    Personally I would support the current limit, but I would not condemn those who believe, based on potential viability, that the limit should be reduced.

  • Richard Ormerod 22nd May '08 - 12:12pm

    Those voting to lower the time limit should not automatically be classed as social conservatives (though some probably are). There are liberal arguments against abortion on human rights grounds. I don’t subscribe to them, but there is a liberal case.

  • Of course MPs can sometimes have a legitimate reason for absence, like an illness for instance. I don’t know if all eight catched a flu before the vote, but it is possible that at least one or two of them did.

  • Or perhaps some of them were campaigning in Crewe and Nantwich?

  • Jennie – What Jo says is entirely correct if you substitute anti-abortion/catholic lobby with anti-abortion/(christian/religious) fundamentalist/cynical/calculating/right-wing/sympathetic-to-vested interest lobby.

  • Before Jo insists on going around maligning MPs she should first check her facts.

  • As this is an issue (22 week reduction) where the Party is fairly evenly divided I am surprised that it is being used to ‘out’ various ‘closet conservatives’. The desire to have a Party where everyone votes the same way on such controversial issues seems very anti-liberal. My own (LibDem) MP, whom I respect greatly, ducked this one, and I have my own views, but I am happy to see diversity within the Party. I would be very worried if abortion were no longer a conscience issue for LibDems.

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