EXCLUSIVE: Long-Bailey backs stricter abortion laws

Answers to a questionnaire from the Catholic church in the recent general election reveal that Rebecca Long-Bailey backs stricter abortion laws.

Rebecca Long-Bailey has indicated that she supports greater restrictions on abortion.

Answering a series of questions sent to Manchester candidates standing in last month’s general election by Catholic priests at Salford cathedral, Long-Bailey said she disagreed with current abortion legislation which can allow termination of a pregnancy up to a full term in special circumstances.

At present abortions can be allowed by doctors after the legal term limit of 24 weeks in cases where tests show serious abnormality in the foetus. Asked by priests if she would support the removal of this clause, Long-Bailey said “I personally do not agree with this position”.

It is currently legal to terminate a pregnancy up to full-term on the grounds of disability while the upper limit is 24 weeks if there is no disability. I personally do not agree with this position and agree with the words of the Disability Rights Commission that “the context in which parents choose whether to have a child should be one in which disability and non-disability are valued equally”.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Salford Cathedral Deanery, 12 December 2019

Asked if the overall time-limit for abortion should be reduced, Long-Bailey pledged that the Labour Party would consult on any changes to abortion regulations, and that she would “play her part” in “ensuring that [the Catholic Church’s] views are heard.”

The Labour manifesto states simply that “We will uphold women’s reproductive rights and decriminalise abortions.” We have not stated that time limits will be reviewed, and definitely not that they should be increased.

Labour would propose a wide public consultation on the detail of new laws and regulations and of course I will play my part in that discussion in ensuring that your views are heard.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Salford Cathedral Deanery, 12 December 2019

Long-Bailey also stressed that “anyone who attempts to ‘procure her own miscarriage’ is committing a criminal act and subject to a jail sentence.”

Labour has stated that abortion procedures and those performing them must be properly regulated but vulnerable women should be advised and assisted rather than criminalised.

On back ground to this: The 1967 Abortion act legalised abortion under certain strict conditions, if two doctors agree that continuing a pregnancy would affect a woman’s mental or physical health.

But the 1967 act did not repeal the 1861 Offences Against The Persons Act, which still technically means that anyone who attempts to “procure her own miscarriage” is committing a criminal act and subject to a jail sentence.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Salford Cathedral Deanery, 12 December 2019

The same two questions were put to local MP Barbara Keeley who simply replied “no” to both. Asked if “those who uphold pro-life views should have the right to hold elective office” in the Labour Party, Long-Bailey replied “yes” while Keeley declined to answer.

Long-Bailey’s views may explain why she was noticeably absent during a number of Parliamentary votes on abortion. She abstained on votes to liberalise abortion regulations in March 2017 and twice in October 2018, including an amendment tabled by Stella Creasy and Conor McGinn to allow abortions in Northern Ireland, that were supported by the majority of Labour MPs. However, Long-Bailey did vote in favour of a similar amendment the following year.
 
Other answers from the Salford MP, who was educated at a Catholic school, reveal that opposes euthanasia and “very much” values the role of Catholic schools in providing “spiritual support and guidance”.

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