Conservative vice-chair for women calls for debate on abortion
2 March 2018
Maria Caulfield's views on abortion were branded "appalling" - because she opposed decriminalisation.
SPUC's Antonia Tully says political realism is needed.
Maria Caulfield MP, the Conservative party's vice-chair for women, has called for a national debate on abortion, and has highlighted that the time limits for abortion in the UK are higher than in many other countries.
Questioning the pro-abortion consensus
The MP for Lewes opposed Diana Johnson's decriminalisation bill last year, which led to her being attacked in the media for her "appalling" comments when she was appointed as vice-chair for women in January.
In an interview with House magazine, she said: "We’ve got one of the most liberal abortion laws in the world. We’re up to 24 weeks, in most parts of Europe it’s 15,16 weeks. With medical advances, we’ve got babies born now at 18, 19 weeks. I think it’s something like 50% of babies after 22 weeks are viable and yet abortion is still freely available up to 24 weeks...I think we do need to have a debate."
What's the answer?
However, SPUC's Antonia Tully warned that attempts to change the time limit are dangerous. "Maria Caulfield’s call for a national debate on abortion is welcome but we must be politically realistic," she said.
"Previous attempts to alter time-limits in Parliament led to abortion to birth being introduced for some circumstances, underlining the key political reality that when it comes to legislation it is of the utmost importance to understand the voting intentions of MPs and to understand how bad things can be added to well-intentioned laws."
Decriminalisation puts vulnerable women at risk
Ms Caulfield also elaborated on why she opposed decriminalisation in Parliament. "The current law where you have to see two doctors before going to have an abortion protects vulnerable women," she said. "So, women who are maybe being pressurised into having an abortion by a partner, women who are maybe being pressurised into sex selective abortion… it’s a very traumatic time and lots of women are uncertain about definitely going ahead with it.
"To decriminalise that and to get rid of that ability to be able to go and see an independent doctor and to have that space, I think puts vulnerable women really at risk."
Stripping all protection from the unborn
SPUC is currently running a major petition against decriminalisation. Mrs Tully said: "The great challenge politically is that a hardened core of pro-abortionist MPs and activists are determined to hijack the abortion debate and are working for the decriminalisation of abortion and permitting abortion to birth in any pregnancy.
"Pro-abortion politicians led by Diana Johnson are calling for the full-blown decriminalisation of abortion. If their extreme proposals were to become law, there would be no recourse in British law to ensure that an unborn child was not aborted."
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