What are your views about abortion and fertility?

FROM PRO-LIFE CAMPAIGNERS:

As an MP would you commit to the following? 

1) Stop discrimination against baby girls by supporting a law change to clarify that sex-selective abortion is illegal.
2) Bring UK law closer to the laws in the majority of EU member states by lowering the gestational time limit for abortion.
3) Support women in the workplace by backing policies designed to end pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

Further information on these policies and independent polling showing strong support from the public for each is available here: https://righttolife.org.uk/bothlives.

I care very deeply about these issues and, with it being likely that these three policies will be brought up in the next parliament, where you stand on them will affect my vote.

 

FROM PRO-CHOICE CAMPAIGNERS:

I live in your constituency and, in advance of casting my vote in the General Election, I am writing to ask that you pledge to support women’s reproductive choice if elected as my local MP.

I am asking you to support the commitments in the British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s (BPAS’s) ‘My Pledge, Her Choice’ campaign. From contraception and abortion to ensuring the best possible outcomes in pregnancy for women and their babies, we need our next Member of Parliament to support women’s health and wellbeing across their reproductive lifetimes.

I – and bpas – are asking you to commit, if elected, to:

  1. Support further moves to decriminalise abortion in England and Wales in line with previous cross-party parliamentary bills and amendments, including the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2017.
  2. Ensure women can access the full range of contraceptive options in the way most convenient for them, including from local pharmacies.
  3. End inequalities in access to NHS treatments for infertility to allow all women access to three full cycles of IVF in line with NICE guidelines.  
  4. Support calls for the government to enact recommendations to fortify flour with folic acid to protect pregnancies, sparing many women every year from the painful decision to end a wanted pregnancy following a diagnosis of a neural tube defect like spina bifida or anencephaly.

Polling shows that we are a pro-choice country, with 70% supporting the right of a woman to have an abortion if she does not want a child. This level of support is common across voters for all political parties. I understand that votes on abortion are undertaken on a free vote basis in parliament, and as a woman’s right to choose is important to me, I want to know that any candidate I vote for would support this right in law, even if they would not choose it for themselves.

I hope that you share my belief that women should be able to access contraception and IVF care locally and for free, and that we as a country should do everything we can to avoid women receiving a devastating diagnosis of a serious or fatal foetal abnormality as the result of neural tube defects.

Answer:

I would like to see fewer abortions, and for those which do take place to be carried out at the earliest possible time. I support the principle that abortions should not be allowed just because a parent would prefer a baby of one particular sex. 

However, I do not believe that abortions are reduced by making legal abortion more difficult. I think this just makes a distressing event more traumatic and leads to more abortions being carried out unsafely without proper medical support.

Rather, I believe abortions can be reduced by making it easier to avoid unwanted pregnancies, providing good nutrition and health care during pregnancy and providing better support for parents to raise a family.

Likewise, one way to ensure the NHS can afford to fund IVF for all who need it is to give more women the opportunity to have a family at a younger age, rather than feeling like they have to work until their late thirties before being able to afford to have children.

I support equal rights and non-discrimination in the workplace, and the Liberal Democrats have proposed to extend free child care to cover all children from 24 months old for 35 hours a week, 48 weeks a year. Childcare will also be available free of charge from just 9 months old if the parents / guardians are in work. This will give all parents more freedom to raise a child without worrying about how to cover the cost of child care. 

Additionally, in England, Liberal Democrats will argue for ‘baby boxes’ in England, as advocated by the Royal College of Midwives, to provide babies and parents with essential items to help with health and development. 

Whilst I understand your commitment to fighting for equal rights for all, I have a policy of not signing pledges which might limit my ability to respond to policy proposals or interpret legislation in the future. If you have particular issues to raise about individual concerns I will be a compassionate, approachable and communicative MP. 
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