In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Henry Bellingham voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 12 weeks. After four separate parliamentary votes on varying time limits, the majority of MPs voted to keep the abortion time limit at 24 weeks, hence no abortion amendments were added to the bill.
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report of October 2007 had found no good evidence of change since the limit was set in 1990, and hence no new reason for a reduction. However, it acknowledged that this 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.
In September 2011 Henry Bellingham voted for Nadine Dorries’s amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill, 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 Henry Bellingham 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.
Legal status of cohabiting couples
In his role as Shadow Justice Minister, Mr Bellingham backed plans to give cohabiting couples the same rights as those who are married. Bellingham told the media:
- "It may well be traditional Conservative policy to say we shouldn't give rights to co-habitees but at the moment people can walk away from those relationships and the children of the people who are left suffering.
- If we do bring in some new rights I think you would avoid a great deal of misery you would provide far more certainty for children in particular and actually you would, put in place a driver for more responsibility and at the same time you may actually encourage marriage."
Conservative leader David Cameron distanced himself from Bellingham's comments, and religious groups claimed that the measure would "undermine marriage".
Libel Law Reform
On 30th March 2010, in a House of Commons committee debate, Henry Bellingham abstained in the vote on The Conditional Fee Agreements (Amendment) Order 2010. The order would have limited success fees paid to lawyers in libel cases to 10% and was an initial stage in libel reform proposed by Jack Straw. The committee rejected the order by nine votes to five, meaning that it will now go to a full Parliamentary vote.
The Role of the Church of England
In a Parliamentary debate in March 2009, Mr Bellingham said "Call me an old-fashioned Anglican or a traditionalist, but I feel strongly that the established Church is one of the foundations of our constitution". He further stated his views on the current Church leadership:
- "I wish the bishops in this country would stand up and put a stronger case for Anglicanism. All too often, they take the easy way out and, rather than stand up for hard-pressed individuals who are being persecuted by the state, they walk by on the other side. As for speaking up for basic Christian beliefs, all too often, all we hear is a deafening silence. It seems to me that too many bishops are overcome by political correctness and a feeling of guilt about saying anything that might remotely cause offence to minority religions, and they are obsessed with multiculturalism.
- "There are honourable exceptions, however—two quite remarkable bishops. I pay tribute to the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu [Wikipedia], and to the Bishop of Rochester, Bishop Nazir-Ali [Wikipedia]. Those two great men have consistently stood up and publicly supported individuals who are being persecuted by the public sector."
Mr Bellingham supported a campaign for the introduction of a vaccine to protect babies against Meningitis B (date unknown, prior to December 2014).
- "...as lessons have shown from countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, where there is a reservoir of disease in wildlife this must be tackled through culling. Leading vets have supported this approach and improvements are being made following recommendations from the Independent Expert Panel. Operators have undergone increased training to improve humaneness and effectiveness, and there will be monitoring to assess progress and an independent audit."
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