Today, the Prime Minister appointed Maria Caulfield MP (Lewes) as Conservative Party Vice-Chair with Responsibility for Women. Caulfield is a superb MP, and her excellent appointment was greeted very warmly by many commentators.
Members of the abortion lobby and their allies in politics and in the media attacked the decision online, on the basis that Caulfield had led opposition to their key legislative aim: so-called ‘decriminalisation’.
Falsely presented as merely removing criminal penalties for women who buy abortion pills online, decriminalisation really means taking abortion out of the law. This would mean removing all legal limitations on abortion outside of medical regulation, leading to a situation of abortion on demand, for any reason, and (depending on whether criminal penalties were partly or completely repealed) either up to 28 weeks or up to birth.
As it happens, both the removal of abortion from the law and the extension of abortion above the current limit of 24 weeks are extreme minority positions, especially amongst women.
ComRes found in polling last October that 70% of women believe that abortion should be governed by a legal framework, and in May last year they found that only 1% of women favour increasing the upper limit beyond 24 weeks (and another 1% who favour abortion up to birth). By contrast, the same May Poll found that 70% of women want the upper abortion limit lowered, with 59% favouring it to be lowered to at least 16 weeks.
Moreover, removing abortion from the criminal law would also legalise abortion for any reason whatsoever, including sex-selective abortion. The May poll taken above confirmed that 92% of women supported sex-selective abortion being explicitly illegal in law.
Not only would decriminalising abortion mean abortion on demand, for any reason, either up to 28 weeks or birth – an extreme minority position, contrary to the opinion of the vast majority of women – it would remove important protections for pregnant women. Section 58 of the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, and the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929, both of which criminalise self-abortion, also criminalise men who try to force women to have abortions by causing their miscarriage. Removing either statute would remove important protections.
Meanwhile, women have only been prosecuted in the last few decades in Britain for self-aborting in extreme, callous, and late cases. In R v Catt (2009), a woman called Sarah Catt was prosecuted for aborting her baby at 40 weeks, just before the baby could be born. In R v Towers (2015), a woman was prosecuted for causing her baby to be smothered to death at 32 weeks, when she took prostaglandins that caused her have heavy contractions. There has not been a single prosecution in England and Wales or Scotland before 24 weeks.
In opposing decriminalisation, Maria Caulfield not only represented the views of the majority of British women, but stood for better protections and safety for pregnant mothers and unborn children. Contrary to abortion lobby claims, this makes her an excellent choice for Conservative Vice-Chair, especially with responsibility for women.
RTL Executive Officer Peter D. Williams said:
“Maria Caulfield is a great MP, and an excellent choice to be a Vice-Chair of the Conservative Party. Her views and actions in the House of Commons on abortion represent the view of the moderate majority of women, contrary to the inhumane extremism of BPAS and the rest of the abortion lobby.
The Prime Minister is to be congratulated for this superb appointment, and we hope more appointments in areas such as this involve Parliamentarians who represent the humane instincts of most Britons, especially most British women”.