Friday, 20 January 2012

Nadine Dorries withdraws her bill proposing abstinence-based sex education for girls

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Nadine Dorries MP
Conservative MP (and New Humanist Bad Faith Award winner) Nadine Dorries' Ten Minute Rule bill proposing abstinence-based sex education for girls, which passed a first reading in the House of Commons last year, was due for its second reading in Parliament today. Campaigners for comprehensive sex education, including humanists, feminists and sexual health charities, had gathered outside Parliament this morning to hold a demo against the bill, but as they did, news emerged that the proposed legislation had not appeared on the Commons order of business for the day. Here's what the author of the Guardian's Politics Live blog, Andrew Sparrow, has to say:
"10.54am: Nadine Dorries's sex education bill has been removed from today's order paper – meaning it will not now be debated today, the Commons information office have confirmed to me.

It may be debated another day, but for now it has been "removed from effective orders", a spokeswoman told me.

The bill is likely to have been withdrawn by Dorries herself. "No one would be able to remove a private members' bill without the permission of a member."

I am just going to ring Dorries's office to find out why she has withdrawn the bill."
In an update a few minutes later, Sparrow added that the person he spoke to at Dorries' office could not explain why the bill had been withdrawn.

So we don't know for sure that the bill has been permanently withdrawn, but if it has it's a victory for comprehensive sex education in our schools, as the British Humanist Association's Andrew Copson points out:
"If the Bill had been debated, it would not have been passed, and there was always a good chance that there would not be enough parliamentary time for it even to be debated. It would be nice to think that Mrs Dorries withdrew her Bill because she at last realised that  abstinence 'education' is a dangerously unrealistic and irresponsible proposition for our young people; in the more probable eventuality that her decision was guided by politics rather than a change of heart, we will all certainly need to remain on our guard against such foolish proposals in the future. The fact that the Bill ever got tabled for a second reading at all has given all those who care about good quality, comprehensive sex and relationships education to say so, and take a stand against the sort of un-evidenced, ideologically motivated policy making that the Bill represented."
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