Where does Labour’s new leader Kier Starmer stand on abortion?

Kier Starmer has been announced as the new Labour Party leader with fifty-six percent of the vote. Starmer will be joined by Angela Rayner as deputy leader.

Starmer’s election brings to an end the almost five-year duration of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the party. After announcing plans to introduce abortion, for any reason, up to birth, Labour suffered their worst electoral defeat since 1935. 

Kier Starmer does not have a good record when it comes to life issues.

In July 2019 he voted in support of imposing an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland. In October 2018, he voted in support of an amendment to put pressure on the Government to change abortion legislation in Northern Ireland.

That same month, he voted in support of a Ten-Minute Rule Motion, which if it had been successful, would have introduced abortion on demand, for any reason, up-to 24-weeks in Northern Ireland – along with removing many of the current legal safeguards around abortion provision in England and Wales.

Kier Starmer’s voting record on abortion and assisted suicide.
Sourced from the Where Do They Stand voting record database.

On the assisted suicide issue, he voted in September 2015 in support of a Bill to introduce assisted suicide to England and Wales. That Bill was then defeated by a very large margin (330 votes to 118).

Additionally, he has thrown his support behind a host of pro-abortion pledges listed in an open letter to his as evidenced through his personal tweet in reply.

The pledges include:

  • Introducing abortion up to birth, for any reason to the UK 
  • Opposing any attempt to reduce the abortion time limit
  • Supporting the introduction of buffer zones around all hospitals and clinics providing abortion ‘services’ 
  • Remove the two doctor clause
  • Require doctors to register their conscientious objection
  • Introduce a legal requirement for hospitals to provide abortion ‘services’

Before becoming an MP in 2015, Sir Keir Starmer made some startling revelations over his abortion stance while he was the UK’s Director of Public Prosecutions. 

A month before quitting as the head of the Crown Prosecution Service, Sir Keir ruled against the prosecution of two doctors who were secretly filmed arranging sex-selective abortions in a Telegraph exposé. The CPS stated it was not in the “public interest” to prosecute the individuals. 

In a letter explaining his decision to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, Sir Keir said that the 1967 Abortion Act “does not… expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions.” He also noted that in many cases doctors approve abortions without even meeting their patient.

Since then he has also said abortion should not be a “criminal law issue”

Speaking during a visit to a nursery in Batley, West Yorkshire, he said: “It should be a matter of a woman’s right to choose. I want to see this reviewed and changed. We need to take criminal law out of it.”

Starmer will be joined by Angela Rayner as deputy leader. Unfortunately, Rayner has a similarly bad record when it comes to the beginning of life, but appears to take a pro-life position when it comes to the end of life, voting to oppose assisted suicide.

Angela Rayner’s voting record on abortion and assisted suicide.
Sourced from the Where Do They Stand voting record database.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“We are disappointed to see the Labour Party elect yet another leader who takes an extreme pro-abortion position when it comes to voting on abortion in Parliament. Kier Starmer has been joined by Angela Rayner, who has a similar bad record when it comes to the abortion issue. Fortunately, she opposed introducing assisted suicide in 2015 and we hope that her opposition to assisted suicide will continue in her new position and that she can be of influence on this issue to Kier Starmer and the rest of the party.

We are also hopeful that what appears to be the Labour Party moving back to an overall more centrist position will make it easier for Labour MPs who are pro-life to maintain their position as Labour MPs. Momentum-led local party associations have put an enormous amount of negative pressure on some Labour Party MPs that have taken a pro-life position on life issues. With the election of a non-Momentum candidate as leader, we are hoping that this will signal a slow down of these extreme elements in the party and that the party will be more open to a variety of views on life issues among its MPs.”

Royal College of Physicians clarifies it does not support assisted suicide

In a move welcomed by pro-life groups, The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has released a statement on its website clarifying that it does not support a change in the law on assisted suicide.

The RCP, which represents more than 35,000 doctors, dropped its long-standing opposition to assisted dying in favour of neutrality following a controversial survey of its members last year.

In a highly contentious move criticised by over 1,500 doctors, the RCP’s Council said ahead of the vote that the College would go neutral unless 60% of its members voted either in favour or against assisted suicide.

The resulting survey revealed 43.4% said the organisation should be opposed to a change in the law to allow assisted dying, while nearly a third (31.6%) said it should support a change in the law and a quarter (25%) said it should be neutral.

Despite continued opposition to assisted suicide being the most favoured position among those surveyed, the RCP adopted a neutral position to assisted suicide.

The change in stance and the irregular framing of the poll prompted a legal challenge.

Professor John Saunders, a Fellow of the RCP and the former chair of its Ethics Committee labelled the survey as a “sham with a rigged outcome”.

Peer and Former Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson had warned that the RCP’s survey was: ‘A travesty of a consultation and… it risks bringing the college into disrepute as professional body’.

Now, in a statement on its website this week, the RCP has clarified that it does not support a change to the law.

“Neutrality was defined as neither supporting nor opposing a change in the law, to try to represent the breadth of views within its membership,” it said.

“Regrettably, this position has been interpreted by some as suggesting that the College is either indifferent to legal change or is supportive of a change in the law.

“So that there can be no doubt, the RCP clarifies that it does not support a change in the law to permit assisted dying at the present time.”

The clarification was welcomed by Dr Gordon Macdonald, Chief Executive of Care Not Killing.

He said: “This extensive and unusually frank statement from the UK’s oldest medical organisation, rightly puts a sword to the lie that RCP supports a change in the law – it does not. 

“The current laws on assisted suicide and euthanasia exist to protect those who are sick, elderly, depressed or disabled from feeling obliged to end their lives. This is not an imagined risk.

“As we have seen in places like Oregon and Washington, a majority of those ending their lives cite the fear of being a burden on their families and carers as a reason for the decision to end their life.”

Earlier this year, The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) announced it will continue to oppose a change in law on assisted suicide following a consultation of its members.  

The RCGP’s consultation, conducted independently by Savanta ComRes, was sent to almost 50,000 members, who were asked whether RCGP should change its current position of opposing a change in the law on assisted dying.

Just under half (47%) of those surveyed said the College should not change its position, while 40% said it should support a law change providing there is a regulatory framework and appropriate safeguarding processes in place. 11% of respondents said the RCGPs should be neutral, while 2% abstained.

The British Medical Association (BMA) recently polled its member’s views on assisted suicide. The results of the first-ever BMA survey on assisted dying, which closed on 27 February, were due to be discussed at this year’s annual representatives meeting in June and could see the professional body changing its current policy on assisted suicide.

However, due to the coronavirus crisis all BMA events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future meaning any announcement is likely to be postponed.

Activists have been attempting to introduce assisted suicide legislation to the UK through the courts, through parliament and through pressuring medical bodies but continue to face obstacles.

Last year, the High Court rejected to hold a judicial review of the current law on assisted suicide, with judges stating the court was “not an appropriate forum for the discussion of the sanctity of life”. The Court of Appeal rejected an attempt to challenge this decision last month.

Similarly, in 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled that Parliament was a “better forum” than the courts for determining the issue of legalising assisted suicide.

Parliament has consistently rejected attempts by the assisted suicide lobby to introduce assisted suicide, with 330 to 118 voting against introducing assisted suicide in 2015. 

In January, strong opposition from MPs resulted in the Government rejecting a call for review on assisted suicide, despite the best efforts from large pressure groups in favour of assisted suicide.

Additionally, the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC has recently confirmed the Government has “no plans” to introduce assisted suicide legislation, saying: “Personally, I have grave doubts about the ability of legislation to be watertight when it comes to the potential for abuse.”Assisted suicide pressure groups cite a poll that shows there is widespread support for legislation of assisted suicide, yet experts have heavily criticised the polling as deeply flawed. In fact, when asked questions that drill down into the merits of the debate, the percentage of those in support drops dramatically.

Northern Ireland MLAs call for opportunity to repeal extreme abortion regime

Northern Ireland MLAs have called for an opportunity to introduce new legislation to the Northern Ireland Assembly to repeal the new extreme abortion regime, which came into force on Tuesday.

The new regime allows abortion up to the point of birth for all disabilities, including cleft lip, club foot and Down’s syndrome.

Abortion is now available on-demand, without conditionality, for the first time in the UK, allowing for sex-selective abortion to be available on-demand

The new legislation was drafted by the UK Government’s Northern Ireland Office (NIO) after the UK Parliament voted last year to impose abortion on the province in the absence of a devolved government at Stormont, which has since been re-established.

Speaking at Stormont on Tuesday, DUP MLA Paul Givan noted that the NIO has ignored the majority of people in Northern Ireland and over 21,000 who responded to its consultation on the issue.  

He said: “Of those who responded to the consultation, 79% were opposed to any change in the law on abortion in Northern Ireland. The British Government, once again, rode roughshod over the will of the people in this country.”

“The abortion industry must be delighted that, in Northern Ireland, there are the most extreme, radical abortion laws anywhere in Europe. It is a travesty that it has been allowed to happen…

“We will seek legislative change so that we have a regime in Northern Ireland that reflects what I believe will be the will of the people on this issue: defending both lives, that of the mother and of the preborn,” he added.

Paul Frew echoed his fellow DUP MLA’s concerns over the people of Northern Ireland being ignored.

He said: “In one fell swoop, the British Government, and by extension the Northern Ireland Office, have made a mockery of consultation, with 79% of the people who responded, including myself, being ignored; a mockery of legislation and how it should be produced, with time taken to go through each clause to scrutinise it and be accountable for it; a mockery of our healthcare system; and a mockery of how we help and assist the most vulnerable in our society.

“The most vulnerable people in our society are people yet unborn but who have a heart that beats and a body that grows. We are failing all those people. I say this to the NIO: what you have done here in imposing these guidelines and legislation on the people of Northern Ireland is shameful when you know fine well what the people think.”

TUV MLA Jim Allister said: “from today, what should be the safest place for an unborn, namely, its mother’s womb, can become, on a whim, one of the most dangerous places”.

“I urge the Assembly to find time to reverse this outrageous, obnoxious situation and to find a voice and to give a voice to the unborn,” he added.

However, speaker Alex Maskey said scheduling was a matter for the business committee.

Jonathan Buckley highlighted that because of Northern Ireland’s previous pro-life policies the province could celebrate the contributions and lives of 100,000 people.

He said: “It is an absolute shame on the British Government and a shame on the NIO that, in the midst of such uncertain times and such crisis that we are in, these regulations and legislation can come into effect.”

“I rise as someone who is unashamedly pro-life. I value life from beginning to end, but it seems that while we debate COVID-19 in this place and across this country, many have risen and spoken with great emotion and sincerity about the lives that will be lost as a result of this cursed plague, COVID-19, but, yet, can turn a blind eye while regulations come into place that end the life of the unborn.”

Independent MLA Trevor Lunn, who is broadly ‘pro-choice’, told News Letter the new extreme abortion rules which allow for disability-selective abortions up to birth are ‘grotesque’, ‘immoral’ and ‘not humane’.

The former Alliance MLA said: “Our whole thrust was fatal foetal abnormalities – where there’s no hope of life outside the womb. So to see this line inserted now in the bill was quite a surprise to me.

“It refers to I think ‘serious foetal impairment’ being a justification for abortion right up ‘til full term… There is no reason for that. If a child has an expectation of life, whether it has an impairment or otherwise, as far as I’m concerned there’s no justification for the abortion.”

“It’s open-ended. It’s not defined. Down’s Syndrome is the obvious one. But there’s other impairments that people suffer from which you’re certainly not going to die from.”

“I just find the whole thing grotesque… It’s not humane.”

Abortion activists are now targeting Northern Ireland’s Department of Health in a bid to introduce ‘DIY’ abortions to the province.

Legal challenge launched against dangerous ‘DIY’ abortions

The Government’s decision to introduce ‘DIY’ abortions to the UK, without any public consultation or parliamentary scrutiny, will face a legal challenge.

The Christian Legal Centre announced yesterday that it will launch a judicial review arguing that the decision process was unlawful.

It comes after the Conservative Government on Monday unveiled the biggest change to UK abortion law since 1967, after performing an incredible double U-turn.

The Government had initially stated its intention to allow ‘DIY’ abortions on 23 March, but backtracked later that day claiming the announcement had been “published in error.”

The government web page that had published the changes instead had the following message for visitors: “The information on this page has been removed because it was published in error. This was published in error. There will be no changes to abortion regulations.”

Just one day later, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock reassured the House of Commons that there would be no change to any abortion laws in response to Covid-19.

Additionally, Health Minister Lord Bethell made it very clear that there were significant safety and safeguarding issues for women and young girls with the proposal. 

As the Coronavirus Bill was brought to the House of Lords on Wednesday 25 March Lord Bethell rejected strongly on behalf of the government the proposed changes to abortion law, stating:

“….we do not agree that women should be able to take both treatments for medical abortion at home. We believe that it is an essential safeguard that a woman attends a clinic, to ensure that she has an opportunity to be seen alone and to ensure that there are no issues.

“Do we really want to support an amendment that could remove the only opportunity many women have, often at a most vulnerable stage, to speak confidentially and one-to-one with a doctor about their concerns on abortion and about what the alternatives might be? The bottom line is that, if there is an abusive relationship and no legal requirement for a doctor’s involvement, it is far more likely that a vulnerable woman could be pressured into have an abortion by an abusive partner.”

He also made it clear that it would be inappropriate to make this change without parliamentary scrutiny:

“It is not right to rush through this type of change in a sensitive area such as abortion without adequate parliamentary scrutiny.”

He finally pointed out:

“… where we have taken a huge amount of advice—we have worked with the scientific advice in the department —is in the fact that the changes being offered are a fundamental change to the way abortions are regulated and administered in this country. Those regulations and administration arrangements have been worked on for years and are subject to an enormous amount of consensus.”

Now, despite these clear statements, the government have gone against their own warnings by officially announcing the biggest change to abortion law since the 1967 Abortion Act.

The new measures will see ‘DIY’ abortions performed on women by themselves in their homes without the need for a doctor or medical professional.

Before this proposal, abortions could only take place in hospitals or abortion clinics approved by the Secretary of State.

However, under the new temporary policy, doctors will be able to prescribe mifepristone and misoprostol over the phone or video platforms such as Facetime or Skype, meaning they will be left to pass their unborn child at home without direct medical supervision.

The Christian Legal Centre believe that the decision is unlawful, and can therefore be rescinded.

Chief Executive of Christian Concern, Andrea Williams, said:

“The government has acted unlawfully in changing the law on abortion without due process.

“Parliament was explicitly told by the government that it had no plans to change the rules on abortion in response to Covid-19. Only a week later the government fundamentally changed the rules with no consultation or scrutiny.

“We are launching a judicial review of the decision to change the law on abortion after being told by parliament that the rules would not be changed. We believe this decision was unlawful.

“We are meant to be living in a democracy. In this case, the government announced a change, then backtracked and claimed this was an error, then explained to parliament that there would be no changes, and then backtracked again and changed the law anyway. This is not how democratic governments are supposed to act.

“The government is meant to be acting to protect lives due to the threat of Covid-19. Instead it has acted to make it easier for women to be pressured into ending lives. It has done this in a disgraceful underhand manner.

“The coronavirus crisis is being exploited to make changes to the law which would not be possible if parliament was functioning properly.

“Former Supreme Court Justice, Lord Sumption, has spoken out about how quickly basic freedoms are being curtailed in a way that looks like a police state.

“We expect that the courts will not look lightly on such flagrant disregard of parliament by the government in making such changes to abortion laws after telling parliament that this is not what it would do.

“This is nothing less than a fight to preserve our hard-won democratic freedoms which do not allow the government to make changes to the law on a whim with no accountability.”

Abortion activists are now targeting Northern Ireland’s Department of Health in a bid to introduce ‘DIY’ abortions to the province. Despite abortion being a devolved matter in Northern Ireland, an extreme abortion law imposed on the province from the Conservative Government in Westminster came into effect yesterday.

In addition to the legal challenge, thousands of emails have been sent to MPs, via Right To Life UK’s ‘Stop DIY Abortion platform’, urging them to revoke the dangerous change in law. 

A spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“We are calling on the Government to immediately revoke this dangerous decision to allow DIY abortions.

“This is incredibly opportunistic and tragic change pushed by the abortion lobby to take advantage of this crisis. This is the most significant policy change to the practice of Abortion since 1967 and it has happened entirely by the back-door – without any Parliamentary scrutiny or public consultation. For a Government who won the recent election on the premise of giving Parliament “back control”, undermining of Parliament’s role in our democracy can only be described as an attack on Parliamentary sovereignty: a key component of our democratic system 

“This places women at risk. The removal of any direct medical supervision overseeing the use of both abortion pills could see a rise of complications experienced by women, thus putting more strain on our NHS – having the opposite of the effect intended.

“Although the Government have indicated that the designated location for the abortion will be the home, there is nothing to stop both abortion pills being taken at other locations such as schools. It is not clear how the NHS or independent clinic could ensure the pills are taken at home, and with another adult present. Indeed, there would be no control over when, where or even who is taking the pills.

“There are also possible safety issues with under-16 girls and other vulnerable women taking abortion pills at home, school or other locations without the support of medical staff and possibly under coercion from third-parties.

“Furthermore, this proposal poses a threat to vulnerable girls who are at risk from sex-trafficking or child-sex abuse, as the ‘home’ abortion could be used by their abusers as a means to more easily cover up trafficking or abuse scandals.

“Today’s policy change by the Government goes against the very argument previously made by the abortion industry who argued that abortions should be provided at approved locations to protect women from abuse and coercion. By encouraging women to have abortions at home or other locations, the UK Government have put the health and safety of women at risk. 

“The UK Government must immediately repeal these changes to allow proper democratic procedures to be undertaken, but more importantly, to protect the health of thousands of women across the country.”