Jeffrey Donaldson signed the February 2009 Early Day Motion 754: MMR Vaccine and the Media supporting the use of the MMR vaccine. The motion expressed disappointment with the reporting of the vaccine by Jeni Barnett on her LBC radio show in January 2009, and expressed the hope that future reporting of the issue of MMR would be less sensationalist and more evidence-based.
During the 2008 debate over amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, Donaldson was outspoken in his opposition to embryo research. MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Bill after being told that embryo research could be used to find cures for dozens of serious conditions, from heart disease to dementia.
- "The image that people have in their heads and the image that they find most abhorrent is of scientists producing GM babies or cloned adults or minotaurs."
In February 2015 Mr Donaldson 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.
Jeffrey Donaldson is a treasurer of the House of Commons' All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group (as of September 2012).
He 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 2012 Mr Donaldson, like all the other DUP MPs, signed the Coalition for Marriage petition which stated:
- "I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it."
The Coalition for Marriage describes itself as "an umbrella group of individuals and organisations ... backed by politicians, lawyers, academics and religious leaders". They are supported by the Evangelical Alliance and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, and have connections with other Christian groups.
The group claims it "draws upon a substantial body of evidence". Science and evidence-based politics blogger Martin Robbins described their argument as "confused, irrational and ultimately self-defeating".
In October 2010, Jeffrey Donaldson 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".
Prayers for Parliament
Donaldson is the chairman of the group Prayers for Parliament. Donaldson describes the aims group on the 'Prayers for Parliament' website:
- "As a Christian and a Member of Parliament, I believe in the power of prayer to change things. The Bible tells us that we are obliged to pray for those ‘in authority’ and this includes Parliament and the Government as well as our regional Assemblies and local Councils. Your prayer really can make a difference. I have long been inspired by the words of 2Chronicles 7:14
- If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; THEN will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
- The real power to change this land rests not in 10 Downing Street or in the Palace of Westminster. It rests wherever you bow your head in prayer to an Almighty God who is sovereign over all."
On 6th May 2008, Jeffrey Donaldson voted with the four other DUP MPs present against a Lords amendment to abolish the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel. The amendment was nonetheless passed by a vote of 378 to 57.
Libel Law Reform
In December 2009, Jeffrey Donaldson 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.
The motion was tabled following the recent formation of Libel Reform Coalition, which has the backing of Index on Censorship, English PEN and Sense about Science. Sense about Science have been campaigning in defense of a member of its board of trustees, author and journalist Simon Singh, who has been sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association. They issued a statement entitled "The law has no place in scientific disputes".
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