WOMEN who become pregnant after rape should not have the right to an abortion, Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested.
The former Cabinet minister was speaking in the Commons in a debate on legal rights to access abortion, held in response to a petition which garnered more than 166,000 signatures.
The petition called on the UK Government to “reconsider including abortion rights” in its Bill of Rights Bill, which would repeal and replace the Human Rights Act 1998.
In the debate, Rees-Mogg spoke against abortion, saying that a “new life” starts at the point of conception. Currently in the UK abortions are carried out up till the 24th week of pregnancy, with some exceptions allowing the procedure to be carried out later.
The Tory MP said: “There is a clear point of conception where there is a new genetic entity. It is unbelievably clear and straightforward.
“To say that there is some later date – it may be 21, 22 or 24 weeks – is not the heart of the argument. The heart of the argument is actually that this new life started at the point of conception. The tragedy is the 214,869 lives lost last year.”
Rees-Mogg’s figure refers to the number of abortions carried out in 2021 in England and Wales according to official UK Government statistics. The figure was the highest since records began.
The Tory MP was challenged on his views by Labour MP Stella Creasy (above), who said: “Given the train of thought he is coming up with, would he support the right of women to choose to have an abortion were they a victim of rape or incest?”
Rees-Mogg replied: “I think the destruction of life is wrong. I do not believe that we should say that a new life should be destroyed. I do not believe that that is the right of the state. I do not believe we can put it into a Bill of Rights.”
He went on to say: “Bills of Rights are usually about protecting and preserving and ensuring that people are able to get on with their life. This is about destroying life. This is the cult of death. It is the great tragedy of abortion, and it is considered normal.”
Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay, who has led the calls for protest buffer zones around abortion clinics in Scotland, said the Prime Minister should consider removing the whip from Rees-Mogg over the "grotesque" comments.
Mackay said: "These comments are extreme, dangerous and totally disrespectful.
"Abortion rights are human rights, they are healthcare and are legal in the UK. We cannot allow them be threatened or eroded by reactionary politicians like Mr Rees-Mogg. We have seen how this can happen in the US and this must be resisted and challenged here.
"Reproductive rights are under attack around the world. These comments show how utterly unsuitable Mr Rees-Mogg to be an MP. Are these really the values that the Tory Party wants to be associated with?
"The Prime Minister must not only condemn these grotesque comments, but also consider if he really wants someone with those views to sit on the Tory benches."
In its response to the petition, given in August, the UK Government said: “The Government is now looking again at the Bill of Rights to ensure it will deliver the Government’s objectives as effectively as possible.”
Speaking in the debate, Justice Minister Edward Argar said the UK Government believed abortion laws should be “something that is settled by legislatures” – with the issue being devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Argar suggested that the current situation works “without necessitating the creation of a specific right” in the new Bill of Rights Bill.