Full details on the voting records of the new ministers are available at the end of this article
After the sudden dismissal of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary earlier today, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has undertaken a major cabinet reshuffle ahead of his Autumn Statement next week.
Former Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, who, in an apparent reference to the coming introduction of abortion buffer zones across the UK, told police in September that “silent prayer, within itself, is not unlawful”, has been replaced by James Cleverly, the former Foreign Secretary.
Cleverly has tended to abstain on votes related to life issues although, in 2015, he did vote against a bill to legalise assisted suicide in England and Wales. However, more recently, he has voted in favour of giving the Northern Ireland Secretary new powers to impose the commissioning of abortion services on the region.
David Cameron appointed Foreign Secretary
Former Prime Minister, David Cameron, will be taking over Cleverly’s position as Foreign Secretary. Although absent from politics since 2016, the former PM indicated his support for reducing the abortion limit from 24 to 20 weeks in 2012. In 2008 he said “I would like to see a reduction in the current limit, as it is clear that, due to medical advancement, many babies are surviving at 24 weeks”.
In 2014, as PM he described sex-selective abortion as “simply an appalling practice”, although in 2015 he abstained from voting for an explicit ban of the practice. In the same year, he also abstained from voting on an attempt to make assisted suicide legal.
The former Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, who is the new Environment Secretary, has been replaced by MP for Louth and Horncastle, Victoria Atkins. Atkins supported the introduction of ‘DIY’ home abortions as a permanent feature of the law in England. More recently, she has supported the introduction of abortion buffer zones, including making it illegal to offer help outside abortion clinics.
New Environment Secretary Steve Barclay has previously voted in favour of giving the Northern Ireland Secretary new powers to impose the commissioning of abortion services on the region, as well as in support of the creation of three-parent embryos in 2015. However, in the same year, he voted against making assisted suicide legal and in favour of an explicit ban on sex-selective abortion.
Minister of State (Minister for Health and Secondary Care) Will Quince has been replaced by Andrew Stephenson who voted in favour of an explicit ban on sex-selective abortion in 2015. More recently however, he voted to introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics to make it illegal to offer help or to pray.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Primary Care and Public Health) Neil O’Brien has also been replaced by Andrea Leadsom who has consistently voted against the introduction of assisted suicide into the UK. Earlier this year, she voted in favour of an amendment to ensure that silent prayer and consensual communication are not made illegal outside abortion clinics.
A number of other government ministers have also been moved, though not all the new positions have been confirmed. Of those ministers who are known, their voting records on life issues can be viewed below.
Voting record – new ministers
Voting record key
|1||Motion to approve regulations to impose teaching about abortion on schools in Northern Ireland – 28/06/2023|
|2||Amendment to censorship zone clause to ensure that silent prayer and consensual communication are not made illegal outside abortion clinics – 07/03/2023|
|3||Amendment to introduce censorship zones around abortion clinics that make it a criminal offence to offer support or pray – 18/10/2023|
|4||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.|
|5||Amendment to make ‘DIY’ home abortions permanently available in England – 30/03/2022.|
|6||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.|
|7||Introduce censorship zones around abortion clinics that make it a criminal offence to offer support or pray – 24/06/2020.|
|8||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.|
|9||Amendment to impose law change on Northern Ireland to introduce abortion – 09/07/2019|
|10||Amendment to put pressure on the Government to change abortion legislation in Northern Ireland – 24/10/2018.|
|11||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.|
|12||Introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up-to-birth (‘Decriminalisation’) – 13/03/2017.|
|13||Legalise assisted suicide – 11/9/2015|
|14||Explicit ban on sex-selective abortion – 23/02/2015.|
|15||Independent abortion counselling – 07/09/2011.|
|16||Reduce abortion limit to 22 weeks – 20/05/2008.|
|17||Reduce abortion limit to 20 weeks – 20/05/2008.|
|18||Reduce abortion limit to 16 weeks – 20/05/2008.|
|19||Reduce abortion limit to 12 weeks – 20/05/2008.|
|20||Better information and counselling for parents facing a disability diagnosis in pregnancy – 20/05/2008.|
|21||Counselling and 7-day cooling-off period – 05/06/2007.|
|22||Parental notification for girls 15 and under seeking an abortion – 14/03/2007.|