A domestic violence campaigner has described the row over Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg’s controversial views on abortion after rape as ‘a bit of a storm in a teacup.’
The Catholic father-of-six told ITV1’s Good Morning Britain: “I’m completely opposed to abortion. Life begins at the point of conception.”
Asked if his opposition extended to cases of incest and rape, he replied: “Yes I am. I’m afraid so. Life is sacrosanct and begins at the point of conception and I think it is wrong.”
A woman who became pregnant as a result of rape would have a right to an abortion under UK law which “is not going to change”, he said.
And he said he would not try to stop her “because that wouldn’t be the law of the land”.
But he added: “My personal opinion is that life begins at the point of conception and abortion is morally indefensible.”
People are entitled to deeply-held religions beliefs so long as they don’t try to restrict other people’s freedom to make choices about their lives and their bodies.Clare Phillipson
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said Mr Rees-Mogg’s “extreme” views were “wildly at odds” with public opinion.
BPAS’s head of policy research, Katherine O’Brien, said: “We are a pro-choice country, we have a pro-choice Parliament.
“Rees-Mogg’s stance on abortion is quite simply extreme, and extremely out-of-touch.”
But Clare Phillipson, from domestic violence charity Wearside Women in Need, defended Mr Rees-Mogg’s right to his opinion.
“People are entitled to deeply-held religions beliefs so long as they don’t try to restrict other people’s freedom to make choices about their lives and their bodies,” she said.
“And what Mr Rees-Mogg said was that he does not believe abortion is right in any circumstances - including rape - but the law of the land does not agree with him and he is not seeking to change that.
“From our perspective, it is a bit of a storm in a teacup. The law of the land, which was hard fought for, allows women to have abortions and we would certainly support women who have an abortion because they have been raped, but there is no intention to change that.
“If people were calling for the law to be changed and explicitly running campaigns to do so, we would be up in arms about the comments, but the beliefs he has expressed are the same as virtually every world religion.”