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Where will Theresa May's new government stand on pro-life issues?

14 July 2016

Theresa May became the UK's second female prime minister after David Cameron resigned yesterday

After a whirlwind three weeks in British politics, the country has a new prime minister in Theresa May, formerly the Home Secretary.

Naturally, many people will now be wondering whether May's new government can be expected to take a different direction on pro-life issues such as abortion, euthanasia and sex education.

In her first statement as prime minister, given outside 10 Downing Street last night, Mrs May focused on the theme of unionism. In particular, she talked about her vision of unionism as a union between all people across the all parts of the UK.

'One-Nation' vision

This is similar to the way Mrs May has described herself in the past as a 'One-Nation Conservative'.

Paul Tully, SPUC's General Secretary, noted this theme and called for intellectual consistency, commenting:

"Theresa May describes herself as a One-Nation Conservative. We therefore call upon her to be a prime minister for all members of the nation, including for the unborn threatened by abortion, for the vulnerable at risk from euthanasia, and for families."

May's voting record

Mr Tully added: "We are glad to note that Mrs May has voted with the pro-life lobby on a number of occasions, most notably during 2008's Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill and last year's Assisted Dying bill.

"Her voting record implies a sensitivity to pro-life concerns. We call upon Mrs May to review urgently the Conservative government's approach to abortion and population control."

How has the new PM voted?

In 2001, Theresa May voted against regulations to extend human embryo research including the production of human clones.

In 2008 during the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, Mrs May voted:

  • against the bill as a whole
  • for a ban on human-animal hybrid embryos
  • for a ban on creating 'saviour siblings'
  • to prevent the creation of genetically-modified babies
  • for a requirement that IVF doctors consider a child's need for a father and a mother
  • to lower the upper time-limit for social abortions from 24 weeks to 20 weeks

In February 2015, Mrs May voted for a bill seeking to ban sex-selective abortion and also voted against Rob Marris's bill, which sought to legalise assisted suicide, later that year.

Nicky Morgan suggested that Theresa May had supported her plans for compulsory sex ed

Sex education

Some commentators have been disturbed by a claim from Nicky Morgan earlier this year that Theresa May is in favour of making sex education compulsory in primary schools.

According to Cathy Newman, both Theresa May and Justine Greening - now the new Education Secretary - spoke out in favour of Mrs Morgan's plan for mandatory sex education, but all three were overruled by David Cameron.

Pro-lifers will continue to watch as the new government continues to take shape and ministerial appointments are announced.

Pro-life priorities

Analysing developments thus far, Mr Tully set out some of the priorities for pro-life campaigners:

"On abortion, we call upon Mrs May to distance the Department of Health from the abortion industry and the sexual rights lobby. There needs to be a government policy which aims at ensuring that every pregnancy can have a happy ending.

"On population control, we call upon the new government to stop giving public funds to global abortion promoters, and support truly pro-woman healthcare."

Mr Tully concluded: "We hope that Mrs May will uphold the Cameron government's decision not to impose compulsory sex education."

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