THREE women demonstrators were ejected from the gallery of the House of Lords during a heated debate on a Bill to tighten up the Abortion Act on Monday.
The demonstrators had thrown leaflets into the chamber demanding free abortion on demand. The Bill was effectively killed when an amendment put by Lord Houghton of Sowerby to have it read in six months' time was carried by 57 votes to 42.
The Bill's second reading was being proposed by Lord Robertson. He was supported by Lord Longford and Lord Denning, the former Master of the Rolls, who is not a Catholic.
Among those who resisted the attempt to kill the Bill were 13 Catholic peers: Lord Braye, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, Lord Craigmyle, Lord Hylton, Lady Kinloss, Lord Lindsey and Abingdon, Lord Longford, Lady Loudoun, Lord Lyell, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, Lord Oxford and Asquith, Lord Sidmouth and Lord Vaux of Harrowden. They were joined by five Church of England bishops.
But a Catholic peer, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, and the Anglican Bishop of Oxford voted for the amendment which blocked the Bill.
When Lord Houghton was moving his amendment, he was interrupted by three different peers, including Lord Longford, who objected to what they saw as his attempt to make it a party issue, based on Labour policy. Lord Longford sits with the Labour peers himself.
In a later clash, Baroness Jeger, the Labour Party leader, interrupted Lord Longford, saying that another peer was absent because "he does not want to listen to this rubbish."
Lord Denning in supporting the Bill said: "Really it is not only the Christian doctrine but it is the doctrine of our law and the coirimon law that the unborn child has a life of its own and a right of its own which is recognised by the law at least from the time of quickening, and the common law has always recognised that."
Lord Denning said that the Bill would bring the unborn child into the scales so that its interests are given a proper place in the decision that has to be made on its life.