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Jacob Rees-Mogg's Stance On Abortion Isn't Eccentric, It's Extreme

06/09/2017 13:46
Dan Kitwood via Getty Images

Jacob Rees-Mogg has, like another Old Etonian with a penchant for Latin and a profound dislike for the EU, long been a source of gentle mirth. He says really long words in parliament! His children wear bow ties! Oh how we have laughed.

Yet this morning, this genial image finally slipped.

Earlier today, along with confirming his absolute opposition to same-sex marriage, Rees-Mogg sat on the Good Morning Britain sofa and explained that he was opposed to abortion in all circumstances. When asked if this included opposing abortion in cases of rape, Rees-Mogg calmly and casually responded, "afraid so."

So if his personal view was to translate in to law, this would mean forcing a woman to carry to term and give birth to the child of a man who raped her.

Afraid so.

Thankfully these comments have been met with widespread condemnation. And that's because not only are they abhorrent; they are also completely out-of-step with the views of the general public.

Ignore the Daily Mail editorials. We are a pro-choice country. In the latest British Social Attitudes survey, 70% of the public stated they support abortion on request - a more liberal framework than we currently have in the UK. And this figure is growing, up from 60% just over 10 years ago.

And while the eminent Guido Fawkes was quick to shrug off Rees-Moggs views as 'a Catholic being a Catholic', this is just not true of Great Britain in 2017. There has been a dramatic upsurge in pro-choice sentiment among Catholics over the last 30 years, with 61% now also supporting abortion on request, a figure which has almost doubled from 1985. And, as someone sat in the office of Britain's leading abortion provider, I can categorically state that not only is Catholicism not a barrier to supporting abortion access - a number of my colleagues also demonstrate it is not a barrier to providing this care.

While anti-abortion sentiment has long been over-represented among our parliamentarians, in the hallowed halls of Westminster, support for a woman's right to choose now dominates. Earlier this year MPs across all parties voted to decriminalise abortion - including one member of the parliamentary pro-life group - and they also supported extending abortion access for women from Northern Ireland. There are individual exceptions, but overwhelmingly our parliament is pro-choice.

At bpas, we believe that every politician is entitled to hold their own opinion on abortion. However, we will always stand firm against MPs allowing their own personal convictions to stand in the way of women's ability to act on their own.

And we must be clear: the views Rees-Mogg expressed this morning are not "traditional" or "eccentric" - they are extreme. And neither the British public nor our parliament will support them.

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