The valedictory speeches of Nikki Kaye, Amy Adams and Paula Bennett this week were a stark reminder of what National is losing.
Their departure is also a salutary reminder to National of why its board needs better control and oversight of its direction.
The exit of so many socially liberal women at the same time leaves a gaping hole in the so-called broad church of the National party that will cause it to list to the religious right.
The breadth of that church was book-ended graphically this week.
Earlier in the week, first-term Whanganui MP Harete Hipango viciously attacked Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on social media for her support of the recent abortion amendment bill – a bill which passed incidentally with the support of Hipango's leader, Judith Collins.
Hipango was strongly defended by another first-term MP, Agnes Loheni.
They characterised that support by Ardern (but not by Collins) as support for full-term abortions, an extreme argument used at the time the bill was debated but which has no basis in reality.
Fast forward to Thursday and you saw Kaye and Adams describing with pride their work on the abortion legislation, the euthanasia bill, gay marriage, and other Rainbow issues.
Their work has been strongly opposed by a group of hardcore Christian colleagues, mainly first-term MPs, who include Hipango, Loheni, Simeon Brown, Chris Penk and Paulo Garcia, along with more experienced MPs Simon O'Connor and Alfred Ngaro, who briefly flirted with the idea of starting a Christian Party.
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The religious conservatives in National have been more visible this term than before because of three factors: greater numbers of MPs, more issues around which to organise, and the fact the party did not have a strong liberal leader like John Key.
His departure gave the right greater freedom, permission if you like, to speak out with impunity.
Simon Bridges and Todd Muller are not part of the more zealous group although, as conservatives and Christians, would also have given heart to the hardliners.
The fact is the National caucus has been warring among themselves most of this term over conscience issues and made splits over leadership easier.
The leadership camps, the pro-Bridges and anti-Bridges, did not necessarily split into the same teams, although the leading liberals eventually organised Todd Muller's coup.
But the intensity with which those corners were fought meant the caucus this term has never had a true sense of unity.
Kaye and Adams in particular had a lot more in common with most Labour MPs than the die-hards in their own caucus.
Adams cautioned her own party against its changing direction in her third reading speech on the abortion bill when she said: "I think this House is in grave danger of becoming far more socially conservative than New Zealand, and we do a disservice to New Zealand when we get out of step with the views of New Zealand."
A related theme was raised in the valedictory speech by Sarah Dowie, the self-acknowledged "scarlet woman" who had an affair with Jami-lee Ross and felt she was judged by a flawed media that held MPs to a different moral standard.
Kaye's valedictory speech was not subtle about her role as a torch bearer for the socially liberal wing of the National Party, naming her inspirational antecedents as Katherine rich, Simon Power, Jim McLay, Marilyn Waring and Chris Finlayson.
"I've helped keep the flame alive in our caucus, alongside my friend Amy Adams ... I know that as Amy and I leave the liberal wing of the National Party, it will burn brightly with colleagues such as Nicola, Chris, and Erica fighting for freedom," she said - a reference to list MP Nicola Willis, Hutt South MP Chris Bishop and East Coast Bays MP Erica Stanford.
On National's current polling that succession plan is not assured, as Nicola Willis is dependent on the list, and possibly Chris Bishop as well.
The three late reselections for Kaye's vacancy, and those of disgraced MPs Andrew Falloon and Hamish Walker, will all be replacing MPs from the party's liberal wing.
It is not yet clear what the balance will be when the votes fall after September 19 and it is yet to be seen how some of the new MPs such as Christopher Luxon will project their Christian views on others.
The chances are there will not be the surplus of polarising issues there have been this term.
But the exit of a swag of social liberals means keeping a balance between liberal and conservative within National is expected be a greater focus for the party's board particularly in its list ranking.
Traditionally, the board and list ranking committee have had more of a view to gender, ethnicity, and geographic representation.
It is not the sort of correction that can be addressed in one or two elections. But in a modern city such as Auckland, the party is likely to see a need to dilute the deeply conservative voices of men such as Penk, O'Connor and Brown in safe seats.
The loss of Paula Bennett to the party is immeasurable as well. Her life story from young sole parent to deputy Prime Minister is an inspirational one.
But she was also an avowed social liberal who was able to bridge the factional divides in a way Kaye or Adams couldn't.
Judith Collins is now that bridge – often perceived as a social conservative because of her hardline stance on law and order issues but in fact is as liberal as Kaye and Adams when it comes to her voting record.
Publicly this week, she defended her MPs' right to attack Ardern over the abortion issue. Privately her message should have been to desist and to leave all attacks on Ardern to her.