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UPDATED: Where do the Tory leadership candidates stand on abortion and assisted suicide?

With Boris Johnson announcing that he will be officially resigning as Conservative leader, a number of Tories have declared or are expected to soon declare that they will be putting their name forward as candidates in the leadership contest that will take place over the summer. This leadership contest will decide the new leader of the Conservatives and the UK’s next Prime Minister.

The contest will take place in two stages. The first stage (shortlisting) involves a series of votes by currently sitting MPs that will decide on the top two candidates. The second stage then involves these two candidates going onto a final vote where the membership of the Conservative party will decide on the winner.

Right To Life UK has put together the following voting record outline that details the voting records across 19 individual votes on abortion and assisted suicide for each of the current or likely leadership candidates. These records come from the Where Do They Stand database – you can view voting records for other MPs on the platform here. This table will be updated as more candidates put their names forward.

The United Kingdom is about to enter a very important period for the abortion issue. There is currently a renewed push from the abortion lobby to make extreme changes to abortion legislation in England and Wales.

Polling shows Conservative grassroots want pro-life changes to abortion legislation

Given the significant amount of coverage around the US Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, ‘pro-choice’ media outlets and journalists may attempt to run ‘hit pieces’ highlighting the position of leadership candidates who have a strong pro-life voting record on life issues. 

While these articles may gain traction with some socially liberal Labour voters, if the intention of running these pieces is to endanger the chance of a candidate with a pro-life voting record winning the leadership challenge, this could have a chance of backfiring, as the Conservative Party membership is more socially conservative than the general population and likely to be attracted to candidates who have a strong pro-life voting record on life issues. 

Polling from Savanta ComRes shows that among the population who states that they intend to vote Conservative, there is strong support for a number of changes to abortion legislation. 91% agree that gender-selective abortion should be explicitly banned by the law, 79% oppose taxpayer money going to fund abortions overseas and 73% agree that parental or guardian consent should be required for girls aged 15 or under to undergo an abortion. Support for these pro-life changes to abortion legislation is higher among this part of the population than in the general population.

Similarly, another poll from Savanta ComRes showed that two-thirds of Tory councillors (67%) support abortion remaining a devolved matter for Northern Ireland and believe that it should be up to politicians in Northern Ireland to decide whether or not to change the law on abortion in Northern Ireland. 

Both polls are likely to be an accurate proxy of voter sentiment on life issues among the grassroots Conservatives who will ultimately decide the new leader of the Conservatives and the country’s next Prime Minister. 

Beyond Grassroots Conservatives, polling shows the general public is also supportive of a number of changes to abortion legislation. For example, 60% of the general population and 70% of women believe that the current 24-week gestational limit for abortion should be reduced. A full outline of the changes to abortion legislation that the public support is available here.

Full data for each leadership candidate

Links to the full voting record profile for each of the candidates on the Where Do They Stand platform is provided below the following chart. This has been included as it may be difficult to read the details of each of the votes on the chart as a large amount of content has been outlined in a small area. A description of each of these votes can be clearly read on the Where Do They Stand platform.

A running tally of the MPs who are backing each of the candidates is available here.

Green squares represent the MP casting a pro-life vote, red represents a pro-abortion or pro-assisted suicide vote, yellow is an abstention and grey indicates that the MP was not in office at the time of the vote.

Voting record – Current leadership candidates

Leadership voting table 1 7

Voting record – MPs who were expected to stand but confirmed they are not OR are no longer standing as leadership candidates

Leadership voting table 2 12
  1. Motion to approve regulations to give the Northern Ireland secretary further powers to impose the commissioning of abortion services on Northern Ireland – 22/06/2022.
  2. Amendment to make ‘DIY’ home abortions permanently available in England – 30/03/2022.
  3. Motion to approve regulations to give the Northern Ireland secretary new powers to impose the commissioning of abortion services on Northern Ireland – 27/04/2021.
  4. Introduce censorship zones around abortion clinics that make it a criminal offence to offer support or pray – 24/06/2020.
  5. Motion to approve regulations to impose abortion legislation on Northern Ireland – including introducing abortion up to birth for Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot – 17/06/2020.
  6. Amendment to impose law change on Northern Ireland to introduce abortion – 09/07/2019
  7. Amendment to put pressure on the Government to change abortion legislation in Northern Ireland – 24/10/2018.
  8. Introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up-to 24-weeks in Northern Ireland. Remove many of the current legal safeguards around abortion provision in England and Wales – 23/10/2018.
  9. Introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up-to-birth (‘Decriminalisation’) – 13/03/2017.
  10. Legalise assisted suicide – 11/9/2015 
  11. Explicit ban on sex-selective abortion – 23/02/2015.
  12. Independent abortion counselling – 07/09/2011.
  13. Reduce abortion limit to 22 weeks – 20/05/2008.
  14. Reduce abortion limit to 20 weeks – 20/05/2008.
  15. Reduce abortion limit to 16 weeks – 20/05/2008.
  16. Reduce abortion limit to 12 weeks – 20/05/2008.
  17. Better information and counselling for parents facing a disability diagnosis in pregnancy – 20/05/2008.
  18. Counselling and 7-day cooling-off period – 05/06/2007.
  19. Parental notification for girls 15 and under seeking an abortion – 14/03/2007.

Full voting record data for each candidate from the Where Do They Stand platform

Kemi BadenochMichael GoveDominic RaabBen Wallace
Steve BakerJeremy HuntGrant ShappsNadhim Zahawi
Suella BravermanSajid JavidRishi Sunak
Robert BucklandPenny MordauntLiz Truss
Rehman ChishtiPriti PatelTom Tugendhat

Dear reader,

You may be surprised to learn that our 24-week abortion time limit is out of line with the majority of European Union countries, where the most common time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds is 12 weeks gestation.

The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive at 23 weeks whilst, in another room of that same hospital, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age.

The majority of the British population support reducing the time limit. Polling has shown that 70% of British women favour a reduction in the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below.

Please click the button below to sign the petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to do everything in his power to reduce the abortion time limit.