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Where They Stand – Political Leaders, Parties, and the Right To Life

by Lord Alton of Liverpool

2017 is the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Abortion Act 1967. It went through its Second Reading in the House of Commons with only 29 MPs voting against. Since then almost 9 million British babies have been aborted and thousands of human embryos experimented upon – with laws even allowing the creation of animal-human hybrid embryos. The next Parliament may very well vote again on whether to permit assisted suicide and today many more MPs now support the right to life.

Every Election then, involves a critical decision on how our votes as ordinary citizens will affect the dignity of vulnerable human beings. When voters come to use their votes on June 8th, they will not only be voting for a new Government, they will be voting for individual Members of Parliament who will hold in their hands the gift of life or death.

A voter who wants to affirm the right to life of an unborn child, stop destructive experiments on human embryos, and safeguard disabled people from the dangers of euthanasia, needs to establish where their individual candidates stand and weigh up the positions of the political parties. Beyond all other questions, the element with the highest moral gravity is where they stand on the right to life itself.

How The Leaders Have Voted:

In order to know how each Prospective Parliamentary Candidate would vote, it will be crucial to ask those who have yet to make their positions clear. It will also be instructive to look at how those who have already served as MPs have voted on legislation that relates to the right to life. Here for example, are the recent records of the Leaders of the three main UK-wide parties (Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats) on key votes:

2017 Johnson Bill to Introduce Abortion on Demand, For any Reason, Up to Birth:

Theresa May – Abstained

Jeremy Corbyn – For

Tim Farron – Abstained

2015 Marris Bill to Introduce Assisted Suicide:

Theresa May – Against

Jeremy Corbyn – Abstained

Tim Farron – Abstained

2015 Bill to Ban Sex-Selective Abortions:

Theresa May – For

Jeremy Corbyn – Against

Tim Farron – Abstained

2015 Creation of 3-Parent Babies:

Theresa May – Abstained

Jeremy Corbyn – For

Tim Farron – For

2008 Information for Disability Diagnosis:

Theresa May – For

Jeremy Corbyn – Against

Tim Farron – Abstained

2008 Ban on Creating Animal/Human Hybrid Embryos:

Theresa May – For

Jeremy Corbyn – Abstained

Tim Farron – For

2008 Vote to Reduce Abortion to 20 weeks:

Theresa May – For

Jeremy Corbyn – Against

Tim Farron – Abstained

The voting records of the leaders of other smaller and regional parties are also worth noting.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon for the SNP has called for women from Northern Ireland to be given free abortions on the Scottish NHS but she has consistently opposed the introduction of assisted suicide. The leader of the SNP at Westminster, Angus Robertson, abstained on the 2015 Assisted Suicide Bill, abstained on the 2017 Johnson Bill to further liberalise abortion, voted against the banning of sex selection abortions, voted in favour of three parent babies and animal human hybrid embryos, and voted against any reduction in the upper limit for abortions.

Caroline Lucas MP, of the Greens, was not in Parliament when some of the votes were taken but in 2015 voted for assisted suicide and the 2017 Johnson Bill to further liberalise abortion, voted against the banning of sex selection abortions and independent abortion counselling.

A Question of Conscience

Even outside how individual politicians vote, it is crucial that they continue to support the conscientious freedom of their fellow MPs.

In both Houses, Conservative Government Ministers have repeatedly insisted that beginning and end of life issues are a matter of conscience for individual Members and that there is not Party Policy.

The Labour Opposition says that MPs may follow their conscience but the Party has policy in favour of abortion.

The Liberal Democrats have made being pro-abortion a commitment of their party, favour an extension of the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland, and their spokesperson in the Lords recently said that it is their policy to permit assisted suicide.

For the SNP, Carol Monaghan (the MP for Glasgow North West) says “The party Constitution enshrines freedom of conscience and meant I could join the SNP without compromising my faith”.

The Green Party has party policy supporting abortion and “non-animal experiments” which includes support for experiments on human embryos.

Our Role as Citizens

In the next few weeks, the right-to-life movement will need to give voters every assistance in knowing where their candidates stand on life issues, and enable them to find out where information is scanty. In the meantime, all of us as citizens, and as activists who wish to safeguard the basic dignity and rights of our brother and sister human beings, must endeavour to contact our local candidates so as to know their views, and inform others. We mist also make a careful prudential decision as to how we can best use our democratic privileges and personal efforts to secure the election of the best candidates to the House of Commons.

Men and women gave their lives that we should have the freedom to live in a democracy rather than a dictatorship. When casting our votes we owe it to them to carefully consider where individual candidates and parties stand and to vote to protect the most vulnerable and defenceless among us.