This is an update for anybody that I may have browbeaten into contacting Nick Clegg about Dianne Abbott’s Early Day Motion. Specifically, this is anybody who is part of the Sheffield Hallam constituency, which includes anybody who lives in University of Sheffield Endcliffe Village student accomodation.

For once, I actually did what I told everybody else to do, and I’ve since had a reply from his office. The important part says:

“Unfortunately, due to parliamentary convention, party leaders do not sign non-legislative EDMs and therefore Nick will not be able to sign EDM 625. However, this EDM has been supported by a  number of Nick’s Liberal Democrat colleagues.

Speaking on this issue, Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, expressed his frustration that the government has prevented this issue being debated in parliament as part of an amendment to the human fertilisation and embryology bill, saying ‘the government has indicated that it is not appropriate to debate these issues at this time. If that is the case, when is an appropriate time to debate abortion issues?’ Please rest assured that Norman Lamb and the Liberal Democrats will continue to press for a full and open debate surrounding this issue.”

I think it’s still worth writing to Nick Clegg about this, though. Yes, he’s a party leader and apparently can’t sign this, which is sad. But he’s still a local MP, and as such has a duty to represent his constituents. So even if he can’t put pen to paper, he might at least recognise that this is an important issue, and act accordingly.


Via The F-Word blog, the news that the wonderful Dianne Abbott is campaigning for abortion rights in Northern Ireland, with the early day motion that states:

“That this House supports safe, legal abortion for women, within existing time limits, no matter where they live in the United Kingdom; notes that because the Abortion Act 1967 was never extended to Northern Ireland, women in Northern Ireland do not have the same access to abortion as women in the rest of the United Kingdom; further notes that as a consequence women who are for example the victims of rape or incest or who are carrying a severely abnormal foetus are forced to continue their pregnancy against their will or to travel to England and pay for a private abortion, which can cost up to £2,000 and takes place later in gestation than necessary because of the burden on women to raise significant sums of money at short notice and to organise travel to Britain; condemns the inequity that this causes by its impact on poorer, younger and other vulnerable women; deplores the fact that thousands of women are forced into motherhood, illegal abortion or debt each year because they do not have the same reproductive rights as women in other parts of the UK; and calls on the Government to relieve this burden and provide funding for women in Northern Ireland to access NHS abortion services in Britain.”

Abortion Rights is asking that everybody contact their MP to ask them to add their support, and, because I’m awesome, I’ve got the list of Sheffield MPs for you*. The links will take you to an email form hosted by the Parliament website, which in simple terms means that all you’ve got to do is click on the suitable link, put your address and email address in the relevant boxes, type a message along the lines of

“As one of your constituents, I would like to ask you to support the Early Day Motion 625 tabled by Dianne Abbot, MP, and help extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland. Thank you.”

and hit send. It might help to vary the message somewhat, though, so that they don’t think we’re spamming them!

Sheffield Central               —  Rt Hon Richard Caborn (Lab)
Sheffield, Attercliffe        —  Mr Clive Betts (Lab)
Sheffield, Brightside        —  Rt Hon David Blunkett (Lab)
Sheffield, Hallam              — Rt Hon Nick Clegg (LD)
Sheffield, Heeley              — Meg Munn (Lab/Co-op)
Sheffield, Hillsborough  — Ms Angela C. Smith (Lab)

For reasons which escape me, I, and therefore every other University of Sheffield student living in the Endcliffe accomodation, am in “Sheffield, Hallam” and our MP is therefore Nick Clegg.

It should be pointed out that emailing these MPs could have a big impact – each of them voted against lowering the abortion time-limit from 24 to 22 weeks when the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill was around last year. Now, either it was politically expedient for them to vote in that way, or they were sensible people, or both. Either way, emails from people like us could well remind them to be sensible again. Happy emailing, everybody!

*For any non-Sheffield-based readers, this link will take you to upmystreet, the website that I used to find the MPs.