In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Simon Burns voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 20 weeks against scientific and medical consensus which is currently 24 weeks. After four separate parliamentary votes on varying time limits, the majority of MPs voted to keep the abortion time limit at 24 weeks, in keeping with scientific and medical consensus, hence no abortion amendments were added to the bill.
In February 2015 Simon Burns 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.
In February 2011. Ben Goldacre wrote that at a BMA meeting in London, while defending government NHS reforms, Burns:
- ...tried to persuade a room full of nerds that the pathfinder initiative was a pilot scheme, to test the reforms before national roll out, even though this “pilot scheme” covers more than half of all the patients in England. Then he explained that doctors obviously don’t understand what the word “pilot” means. Then he explained that the evidence of what doctors say to him when he meets them is more reliable than good quality survey data.
(Other reports on the BMA meeting from Pulse and Socialist Worker. Unfortunately, neither of these articles mention Burns' comments about pilot schemes or evidence - Goldacre seems to be the only source that is reporting that.)
On 6th May 2008, Simon Burns voted 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.