New Clause 15 - Children as victims of domestic abuse

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 6th July 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Carla Lockhart Carla Lockhart DUP, Upper Bann 7:45 pm, 6th July 2020

I agree with my hon. Friend that we have an absolutely terrible situation in Northern Ireland as a result of the legislation that was railroaded through this House, and forced on the people of Northern Ireland.

The amendment makes no provision for helping women to get out of the abusive situation. Providing women with abortion pills while failing to address the reasons why women may be unable safely to attend a clinic does not present itself as a responsible or logical solution to tackling domestic abuse. Our laws should be designed to help vulnerable women escape domestic abuse situations, not enable them to remain in those horrific situations. Indeed, if a woman is not assessed in person—and, specifically, given an ultrasound—and if she has gone beyond the legal limit for an abortion by pill, the risk of complications goes up dramatically. Coercion of some kind is frequent in an unplanned pregnancy and in removing the requirement of a face-to-face consultation, there is no guarantee that a patient can speak freely without the coercive party listening in. Furthermore, we know that women are coerced into having abortions based on sex selection. If an abusive partner does not want a particular sex of child, they can force their partner into having an abortion via telemedicine.

On new clause 1, I welcome changes being made to remove the defence of consent in cases of rough sex, but I believe we need to do more to tackle the drivers for rough sex practices. I strongly support new clause 1 in the name of Fiona Bruce, whom I commend for her efforts and work in this regard. The House needs to be clear about depictions of rough sex in pornography. Such practices cannot be normalised, and such content should be made illegal. In terms of pornography, it is already illegal, but it is notable that the campaign group We Can’t Consent To This, which has been advocating for a change in the law on the rough sex defence, states:

“In four of the most recent killings”— of women and girls—

“the men viewed ‘extreme porn’
featuring violence including strangulation…before or after the killing of the women.”