The election results and the pro-life cause: key analysis
9 June 2017
This morning, the UK woke up to the news that Theresa May’s Conservative party has lost its overall majority in the House of Commons. What do the results mean for the pro-life cause in Parliament?
SPUC’s Communications Officer Alithea Williams, who was monitoring the election coverage through the night, gave her initial reaction:
"This election result has certainly surprised everyone. That Labour have increased their vote share could be a worry, as they included an explicit pro-abortion pledge in their manifesto implying support for the decriminalisation of abortion both in Britain and in Northern Ireland (to where the Abortion Act does not extend)." It now appears that Theresa May is forming a minority government, with backing from the Northern Irish DUP. This could potentially be positive, as the DUP actually have a pro-life stance, and would certainly oppose the decriminalisation of abortion both in Britain and in Northern Ireland.
Significant gains and losses
"We are pleased to see that Maria Caulfield, who spoke so well against Diana Johnson's decriminalisation bill, has been returned to Parliament, as has veteran pro-life campaigner Fiona Bruce. It is a blow that MPs with solid voting records on life issues, such as Sir Julian Brazier, who signed SPUC's pro-life pledge, as well as David Burrowes, Caroline Ansell, and Stewart Jackson, will not be returning to Parliament.
"It is also disappointing that MPs who support the radical agenda to remove all restrictions on abortion, such as Rupa Huq, Paula Sheriff and of course, Diana Johnson have successfully defended their seats. Whatever happens in this new Parliament, it is more crucial than ever that pro-lifers use every means at their disposal to oppose any moves to 'liberalise' the abortion law."
The picture around the UK
John Deighan, CEO of SPUC Scotland, gives his analysis: "The electorate have undoubtedly been influenced by issues such as a second Scottish Independence referendum and Brexit. This has given rise to a mixed-bag of results. Some results that should be good from a pro-life perspective are those such as the re-election of many of the Scottish MPs who voted against assisted suicide among whom are some with strong pro-life views on abortion.
"There are of course some strongly pro-abortion MPs that have intimated their views to our supporters. They present a danger that could grow in Westminster which has seen the return of some extreme pro-abortionists determined to make our abortion laws even worse. Our enemy is, as ever, ignorance. The political battle ahead will need a strong effort to ensure constituents appraise their MPs of the humanity of babies in the womb as well as the damage that abortion is doing to women and our society in general."
Paul Botto Secretary, SPUC Cardiff and Penarth, says: "In Wales, Labour gained three seats from the Conservatives. In Cardiff, where pro-life efforts meet considerable opposition, all three constituencies have returned Labour MPs, including some with very bad voting records on defending life."
On the possibility of the DUP backing a Conservative Government, Liam Gibson, SPUC’s Northern Ireland Development Officer, said: “The DUP is solidly pro-life and its representatives have consistently voted to defend all human life, not only in Northern Ireland, but at Westminster and in Europe as well. It is undoubtedly the most socially conservative party in Parliament. In the past DUP MPs and peers have been happy to work with SPUC and spoken out strongly against the liberalisation of assisted suicide and the plans of the sex-education lobby. They could exercise a positive influence on a minority Conservative government if one is formed.”
Antonia Tully, Director of Campaigns said: "SPUC has run a hard-hitting campaign over the last four weeks. We've been getting out the message of our campaign “We Care About Women”. Over 90,000 leaflets highlighting the threat of decriminalising abortion have been distributed up and down the country.
"Hundreds of our leaflets were delivered door-to-door and handed out on the street in Hull North, seat of the most extreme abortion MP in the country. Diana Johnson MP, who earlier this year introduced a bill to decriminalise abortion, has kept her seat. But, thanks to SPUC, thousands of her constituents are now aware of the horror of what she is promoting.
"Pro-abortion MPs are pushing for decriminalisation of abortion because they don't care about the impact of abortion on women or refuse to look at what that impact is. We really do care that women who have an abortion experience mental health problems 30% more often compared with women who give birth. It matters to us that a study has shown that suicide is approximately six times greater after an abortion than after childbirth.
"We are fighting the decriminalisation of abortion every inch of the way. In October 2017 SPUC is holding a mass constituency-based lobby of MPs. We are aiming for every MP in the country to hear first hand of the dangers to women and babies of decriminalising abortion. We want the firm commitment of MPs to oppose any moves to decriminalise abortion."