By SPUC—the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
MPs from across the political spectrum on abortion condemned the idea of making abortion a human right, with pro-life MPs taking the opportunity to stand up for the rights of unborn children.
Parliament debated E-petition 619334, which calls on the Government to include abortion rights in the upcoming Bill of Rights.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP, who introduced the motion, did not seem convinced that creating a “right” to abortion was the way to reform abortion law. Several other pro-abortion MPs also expressed reservations. Only Stella Creasy MP enthusiastically championed the motion.
Petition picked apart by MPs
Numerous reasoned objections to the proposals in the petition were raised during the three-hour debate – in which pro-abortion MPs were far outnumbered by those representing the pro-life side.
Fiona Bruce MP referenced the current international situation, confirming that none of the nine core treaties of the United Nations recognizes abortion as a human right. She also quoted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which states that “the child by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth”.
Fiona Bruce also pointed out that an unlimited “right” to abortion could mean the removal of any gestational limits, allowing abortion up to birth, the removal of medical safeguards, including the involvement of doctors, and the erosion of conscience rights for medical professionals.
Other MPs similarly pointed out the worrying implications of enshrining abortion as a right. Chris Green MP discomfited several MPs in favour of the proposal by asking if a “right” to an abortion would mean a right to a sex-selective abortion.
Pro-life MPs also movingly championed the rights of the unborn child. Ian Paisley, MP for North Antrim, said that the record 214,256 abortions in 2021 “shows the abysmal failure of abortion regulation in this country”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the noted Catholic MP and former minister, said that the over 10 million abortions that have taken place since 1967 “is a matter of great sadness… It is the great tragedy of abortion that it is considered normal. This extraordinarily high number of babies that are destroyed should sadden us all to the depths of our souls. The idea that we would protect something that is so wrong, and ignores that second life, and to say that that is an absolute right, on a par with free elections, seems to me to be an absolute tragedy.”
He concluded by saying: “I think this petition is wrong constitutionally, but it is far more wrong, morally, because it prefers death to life.”
What did the Government say?
While Westminster Hall debates are not voted on, the Government sends a Minister to respond. The Minister representing the Government, Edward Argar MP, said that the Government is committed to “safe accessible abortion, including abortion at home”. However, he also said: “The Government does not intend to include a ‘right to abortion’ in the Bill of Rights”.
He also confirmed, despite pressure from some Members for the Government to bring legislation to liberalize abortion access, that “it remains the position of the Government that abortion is a matter for Parliament, and Members’ consciences, not Government”.
The Shadow Minister, representing the Labour Party, raised some reservations with the petition, based on objections to the Bill of Rights itself. However, he affirmed the Labour Party’s “commitment to a woman’s right to choose”, adding that Labour is committed to decriminalising abortion.
Alithea Williams, SPUC’s Public Policy Manager, said
“It was good to see so many MPs opposing this proposal, and standing up for the rights of unborn babies. It was also positive that the Government confirmed that it does not intend to include abortion in the Bill of Rights. We call on them to be firm in upholding this position. As Ian Paisley MP pointed out, enshrining a ‘right’ to destroy life, not to protect it, would be a uniquely evil move.”