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Jacob Rees-Mogg faced an angry backlash over his “extreme” and “out-of-touch” views after he admitted he opposed gay marriage and abortion – even if a woman has been raped.
Tory backbencher Rees-Mogg, who has been tipped to be the party’s next leader, said he was “completely opposed” to gay marriage and abortion in an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
His comments sparked a backlash on social media, with some labelling him “bigoted” and “backwards”.
And now MPs, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and abortion charity Marie Stopes have spoken out about his controversial comments.
BPAS said Mr Rees-Mogg’s “extreme” views were “wildly at odds” with public opinion.
Katherine O’Brien, head of policy research at BPAS, said: “We are a pro-choice country, we have a pro-choice Parliament.
“Rees-Mogg’s stance on abortion is quite simply extreme, and extremely out-of-touch.
“Every politician is entitled to hold their own opinion on abortion. But what matters is whether they would let their own personal convictions stand in the way of women’s ability to act on their own.”
A Marie Stopes spokeswoman added: “Mr Rees-Mogg is entitled to his opinion. It does nothing to change the fact that women in the UK have benefited from access to safe and legal abortion for 50 years, and will continue to do so.
“Restricting access to abortion only makes it more likely that women will risk their health and their lives through dangerous backstreet procedures.
“Our teams around the world deal with the terrible impact of this every day. No one should be seeking to replicate this situation in the UK.”
Laura Russell, Policy Manager for the Family Planning Assocation, said the comments are “massively out of step with the vast majority of the public’s opinion, including people of faith”.
“Rees-Mogg made it clear that these are personal views and that UK law is ‘not going to change’,” she said. “However, he has used his position in Parliament to vote in favour of legislation that would have eroded reproductive rights.
While politicians are of course entitled to their own faith and morals, these should never be used as a basis to deny citizens the rights to control their reproductive health.
Access to safe and legal abortion care is a human right, which has been recognised by multiple UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies. And these rights are still denied to UK citizens.
In the interview, which aired on Wednesday morning, Rees-Mogg told Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid that he supported the teaching of the Catholic church and opposed gay marriage, adding: “The teaching of the Catholic Church is completely clear.”
When asked if his opposition to abortion included in cases of rape and incest, he said: “I’m afraid so. Life is sacrosanct and begins at the point of conception, and I think it is wrong.”
Addressing his views, Morgan said: “Say if you were PM and a woman is raped by a family member, you would say she had absolutely no right to have that baby aborted?”
To which Rees-Mogg responded: “No she would have a right under UK law.”
“But you wouldn’t agree with that right?” Morgan asked.
The MP said the “law is not going to change” but, when Piers asked for his “personal opinion”, he said: “My personal opinion is that life begins at the point of conception and abortion is morally indefensible.”
Labour MP Jess Phillips condemned his viewpoint, saying the choices women make over their own bodies “should have nothing to do with the religious views of our politicians”.
And Mike Gapes, Labour MP for Ilford South, said the “nasty party” was back with a vengeance.
Rees-Mogg is the favourite to succeed Theresa May as the next leader of the Conservative party – despite insisting he is a “backbench MP”.
In the interview, the father-of-six dismissed claims he was ambitious to be Tory leader and said it would be “vanity” to run for Prime Minister.
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