In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Anne Main voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 12 weeks. The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report of October 2007 had found no good evidence of change since the 24 week limit was set in 1990, and hence no new reason for a reduction (issues included foetal viability and perception of pain). However, it acknowledged that the current scientific evidence was only one of many factors to be taken into account when legislating, and did not make any recommendations as to how MPs should vote.
Ms Main voted for Nadine Dorries’s amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill on 7 September 2011, which was ultimately defeated by 368 to 118 votes. This amendment would have stopped BPAS and Marie Stopes from providing counselling for women with unwanted pregnancies and allowed ‘independent’ counselling including that provided by faith-based organisations.
In February 2015 Anne Main voted against allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to give birth to children who would not inherit the disease. If allowed, mitochondrial donation would be regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) meaning that there would be ongoing assessment of the safety and efficacy of such procedures. An October 2014 briefing report by the HFEA, which had been investigating the issue for three years, stated that there was no evidence to show that mitochondrial donation was unsafe. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed. The majority of MPs voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation.
Health Committee Nomination
Main replied to a query from a constituent regarding her support of the motion:
- "I'm afraid I disagree with you. Homeopathy and alternative treatments are a valuable resource for doctors to be able to draw upon when offering treatments. Where a doctor and patient believe that a homeopathic treatment may be of benefit to the patient, I believe doctors should be able to prescribe that medicine.
- It is worrying to me that Primary Care Trusts are seeking to cut funding which could threaten the future of homeopathic hospitals. The government's management of NHS spending has produced a situation whereby the NHS budget has nearly doubled from £57 billion in 1998 to £92 billion this year, and yet this year up to 37,000 jobs will be lost, hospitals up and down the country are closing or cutting back services and the NHS as a whole has finished the 2006/07 financial year with a gross deficit of over £900 million. And yet, Patricia Hewitt proclaims last year to be the "best year ever" for the NHS. Weighed down by yet more targets from central Government, it is clear that Trusts are struggling to cope, which is having a direct impact on patient care and reducing staff morale in the NHS to an all time low.
- Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that Trusts have decided to take the axe to homeopathic care, as a short term solution to their financial difficulties. I am opposed to these short sighted cuts because, as you will well know, homeopathic care is enormously valued by thousands of people and in an NHS that the government repeatedly tells us is "patient-led" it ought to be available where it is wanted and proves cost and clinically effective.
- It is clear that the government is giving no commitment to safeguard the future of homeopathic treatment on the NHS."
In March 2010, following the publication of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's report "Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy", Anne Main signed Early Day Motion 908: Science and Technology Committee Report on Homeopathy, which was critical of the report.
Medical Innovation ("Saatchi") Bill
Response to communication from a constituent about the Medical Innovation Bill: https://twitter.com/PencilBloke/status/571657827682525184 (February 2015).
Ms Main wrote "It is my understanding that the Bill is aimed to assist those who have a terminal or very rare illness." However the Bill was not restricted to such cases. And "In order for Doctors to be covered by the Bill, they will be required to consult with qualified medical experts before undertaking the treatment and receive a consensus of opinion." However the Bill only required that the doctor obtain the views of one or more "appropriately qualified" doctors and "take full account" of those views "in a way in which any responsible doctor would be expected to" - an ambiguous but weaker protection, as only one other doctor is required (and can possibly be selected as one sympathetic to the treatment) and their agreement to the treatment is not required.
Earlier in its passage, the skeptical medical blogger Andy Lewis had called the Bill a "quacks' charter" and stated "The Saatchi Bill is based on a false premise, shows no understanding of medical research and removes vital protections for patients."
In May 2011 Ms Main voted in favour of Nadine Dorries' Sex Education (Required Content) "10 minute" Bill. The Bill stated that "such education must include information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity". It was criticised for only applying to sex education for girls, not boys, with critics also pointing to evidence that abstinence-only sex education (which does not necessarily lead to abstinence itself) does not protect young people from unwanted pregnancies or STIs (although this was not a bill advocating abstinence-only sex education, it would have meant that the only required elements of sex education would be basic information on reproduction, plus this new content on abstinence, with further content being up to the individual school). The Bill passed its first reading by 67 votes to 61, but had little chance of becoming law and was withdrawn in January 2012 shortly before its second reading.
In March 2010, in the context of the Government consultation on same-sex marriage Ms Main was quoted in the press:
- "I am unlikely to support a so-called ‘Gay Marriage’ Bill.
- "I certainly could not support any legislation that could place an obligation on any religious or faith institution to deliver a ‘Gay Marriage Ceremony’ if it was contrary to their deeply held beliefs."
- "I am acutely aware that despite any assurances that may be given by parliament to ensure that no obligation will exist, legal challenges may be made and subsequent adaptations could prove very difficult for certain faith groups."
A reported email to a constituent seemed to indicate less strong opposition, describing Ms Main as "fence-sitting".
In October 2010, Anne Main signed Early Day Motion 767: Science is Vital Campaign. The motion stated that the house "believes that continued investment in research is vital in order to meet the technological and social challenges of the 21st century, and to continue to attract high-tech industries to invest here; further believes that large cuts to science funding are a false economy, due to evidence that research investment fuels economic growth".
Libel Law Reform
In January 2010, Anne Main signed Early Day Motion 423 calling for a reform of the English libel law. The motion noted that human rights activists, scientists, writers and journalists are currently prevented from publishing, and the public prevented from reading, matters of strong public interest due to the chilling effect of the law.
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