Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey supports lowering the upper abortion limit in cases of disability.
The upper abortion limit in England and Wales is 24 weeks, but there is no time limit for the termination of pregnancies if there is evidence of fatal foetal abnormality or if doctors believe that continuing the pregnancy would put the mother’s life at significant risk.
In written answers to questions put to her by Catholic priests in Salford in the run-up to the election, Ms Long-Bailey, a Catholic clarified her position on abortion.
“Whilst I would never contemplate abortion I have tried to understand the agonising decisions many feel forced to make and what support they would need,” she said.
“For example: the woman with a medical condition who is told she and her unborn child may die if she goes through with the pregnancy or the 15 year old scared to tell anyone and seek guidance.
“My main concerns are about the lack of support, guidance and the lengths many may feel forced to go to.
“Gone are the days of back street abortion clinics and now I fear that many may look to the internet to procure dangerous and unregulated products, without the advice and support they may desperately need, putting themselves in danger and making a life altering decision without counselling or knowledge of the real emotional implications it will have.
“That is why I think that we do need to have a discussion about what a comprehensive, safe, properly regulated approach would be. One which also seeks to provide the advice and support to those who may feel forced to think about taking such a life changing decision.”
Commenting on abortions in the case of disability, she said: “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’.”
Her team defended her comments after they surfaced this week in a report by Red Roar.
In comments to the Press Association, a spokesman for Ms Long-Bailey accused the Red Roar website of being “fake news peddlers” who were trying to “propagate a misleading narrative”.
“Rebecca unequivocally supports a woman’s right to choose and has only ever voted in favour of extending the right to abortion, such as in Northern Ireland,” he added.
“Rebecca’s response to the deanery of Salford clarified the existing law and current Labour policy, stating that abortion procedures should be properly regulated, and that women’s reproductive rights and the decriminalisation of abortion should be maintained.”
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