Mark Pritchard

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Mark Pritchard is the Conservative MP for The Wrekin. He entered Parliament at the 2005 general election.

MMR Vaccination

In June 2012 Mr Pritchard asked a Parliamentary question of the Secretary of State for Health: "with reference to the court ruling in Italy in the case of Valentino Bocca linking autism and the MMR vaccine, if he will commission new research on the link between autism and the MMR vaccine."[1]

Abortion

Mr Pritchard is a vice-chair of the House of Commons' All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group (as of September 2012)[2].

In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Mark Pritchard voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 12 weeks[3]. 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.

During the debate in the House of Commons[4][5], Pritchard raised the following issues:

  • He stated that "The Government have an important part to play [in reducing the number of abortions]. For example, they could improve sex education and provide better access to contraceptive services."
(Wanted: good reference(s) giving the evidence for any effect of improved sex education and access to contraception.)
  • Risks to the pregnant woman such as "higher rates of mental illness, an increased risk of breast cancer and the possibility of future premature births"
(The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report of October 2007[6] noted mixed, inconclusive evidence for risks of mental illness, no increase in breast cancer risk, and a small increase in risk of premature birth[7].)
  • "Scientific evidence increasingly suggests that unborn children feel pain at 16 weeks"
(The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report[6] concluded that "the evidence suggests that foetuses have physiological reactions to noxious stimuli, it does not indicate that pain is consciously felt, especially not below the current upper gestational limit of abortion."[8])
  • "One study in the west midlands revealed that 14.7 per cent. of the abortions undertaken ended in a live birth. Indeed, babies born alive after failed abortions are increasingly common."
(The source for this statistic is unknown. It is possible that, since Pritchard had been talking about "botched abortions between 16 and 20 weeks" immediately prior to this point, it is a confusion of the statistic that of live births following abortion for foetal anomaly, 14.7% were at 16-20 weeks, a figure which was stated in the ProLife Alliance's written submission the Science and Technology Committee[9].)

Mr Pritchard 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.[10]

In October 2012, in a report on Jeremy Hunt's remarks on abortion, Mr Pritchard was quoted as saying:

"The existing laws on abortion lag well behind recent breakthroughs in science,"

It is unclear what breakthroughs he is referring to.

Sex Education

Mr Pritchard was one of the co-presenters of Nadine Dorries' Sex Education (Required Content) "10 minute" Bill, although he did not vote in the only Parliamentary vote on the Bill in May 2011[11]. The Bill stated that "such education must include information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity"[12]. 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[13] (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[14], plus this new content on abstinence, with further content being up to the individual school)[15]. 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[16].

Religion

In 2007, Mr Pritchard called a Westminster debate on "Christianophobia" and asserted that Christianity was being marginalised in British life. He was quoted as saying:

"Some people seem to want to forget the Christian tradition going back to the first century and its contribution to arts, culture and science.
It's gone far enough. If there are those who want to see the Christian church reduced to the margins in this nation they should have the courage to say so, rather than using the rights of other religions as an excuse."

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, responded by citing the Church of England representation in the House of Lords and saying, "Christians are not being pushed out of public life, if anything they are over-represented."[17]

Mr Pritchard also accused "politically correct" people of undermining Christmas.[18]

Blasphemy Law

On 6th May 2008, Mark Pritchard voted against a Lords amendment to abolish the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel[19]. The amendment was nonetheless passed by a vote of 378 to 57.

Same-Sex Marriage

Mark Pritchard voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at both its second reading in February 2013[20] and its third reading in May 2013[21].

References

  1. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120625/text/120625w0004.htm#subhd_205
  2. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/pro-life.htm
  3. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2008-05-20&number=199&mpn=Mark_Pritchard
  4. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080520/debtext/80520-0013.htm#08052057002242
  5. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2008-05-20b.222.0
  6. 6.0 6.1 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmsctech/1045/104502.htm
  7. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmsctech/1045/104508.htm
  8. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmsctech/1045/104505.htm (para 59)
  9. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmsctech/1045/1045we07.htm
  10. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110907/debtext/110907-0002.htm#110907-0002.htm_div339
  11. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110504/debtext/110504-0001.htm#stpa_o51
  12. http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-12/sexeducationrequiredcontent.html
  13. http://www.thetwentyfirstfloor.com/?p=2325
  14. http://www.drpetra.co.uk/blog/what-do-we-want-from-sex-and-relationships-education/
  15. http://educationforchoice.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/abstain-from-abstinence-please-dorries.html
  16. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jan/20/nadine-dorries-sexual-abstinence-bill-withdrawn
  17. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7125521.stm
  18. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7136682.stm
  19. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2008-05-06&number=170&display=allvotes
  20. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-02-05&number=151&mpn=Mark_Pritchard
  21. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-05-21&number=11&mpn=Mark_Pritchard

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