New Clause 15 - Children as victims of domestic abuse

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 6th July 2020.

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Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton 6:45 pm, 6th July 2020

I support this landmark Bill and the Government’s amendments to it. I wish to speak to new clause 1, in my name, new clause 28 and my amendments to it. In 2018, the Select Committee for Women and Equalities concluded:

“There is significant research suggesting that there is a relationship between the consumption of pornography and sexist attitudes and sexually aggressive behaviours”.

The Minister has rightly said that the rough sex defence is unconscionable. In the light of recent survey evidence showing a clear link between rough sex and the influence of pornography, I tabled new clause 1, to ask the Government to investigate this further and to highlight the urgent need for action to be taken by Government to tackle pornography concerns more widely, such as addiction, and to protect children from seeing it and being forced to engage in it. In tabling new clause 1, I am seeking from the Minister—and I appreciate the fact that I have found a listening Minister during the progress of the Bill—an assurance that Government will take early steps to tackle concerns about harm from pornography, so that I do not have to press new clause 1 to a vote.

I cannot put the key objections to new clause 28 better than a response I obtained from a female GP. It is long but worth repeating. She says:

“I am very concerned about the proposed changes to new clause 28. It is extraordinary that it should be argued that a woman suffering or at risk of domestic abuse, seeking abortion should somehow be considered to be at less risk if she consults a doctor remotely by telemedicine and given abortifacients to take at home. Where is the opportunity to check with her, privately, that she is not being coerced or that she may be in danger, to examine her to determine her stage of pregnancy, to offer support and clear advice in a place of safety? As a medical practitioner working remotely, how can I reliably ensure she is at the stage of pregnancy she says she is, as the use of abortifacients used later than the 9 weeks 6 days limit carries greater risk of complications which I would be responsible for providing care for? And how can I provide assurance that this woman is suffering from domestic abuse unless it has been previously disclosed to me…
These factors are virtually impossible to verify without a face to face consultation”.