Women are being forced to have abortions because of the government’s two-child cap on benefits for families claiming Universal Credit, an SNP MP has claimed.
Alison Thewliss sparked shock in the House of Commons on Monday after telling work and pensions minister Alok Sharma that the two-child policy was “forcing women into terminating healthy pregnancies”.
“Has he heard of the discrimination from religious and ethnic minorities?” she continued. “Does he know that most people claiming this benefit are actually in work?”
Since April 2017, two-child families receiving Universal Credit have not been able to claim support for any children born after that date, with the government arguing the benefit claimants “should face the same financial choices about having children as working families”.
On Friday, work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd scrapped a planned extension of the benefits crackdown to children born before April 2017 – when the two-child cap was introduced – saying it would be “unfair”.
But Thewliss – along with Labour MP Margaret Atwood – called for the cap to be scrapped together.
“We cannot plan for everything in our lives,” the SNP MP said, claiming that Rudd’s change was creating a “two-tier” system.
But Sharma said the government would not be changing the core policy, saying it was “fair”.
He said: “Ultimately those who are receiving support in the welfare system should be facing the same sort of choices as those who support themselves solely through work do.
“It’s worth pointing out that for a family that supports themselves solely through work if they decide to have another child they wouldn’t automatically expect their wages to go up – this is about sustainability.”