Deputy prime minister and justice secretary Dominic Raab has ruled out any additional protection of abortion in the new British Bill of Rights – a reform of our current human rights law. His shut down of the suggestion comes just days after the US Supreme Court voted to overturn the landmark Roe v Wade ruling, taking away legal access to termination for millions of people.
Labour MP Stella Creasy said that she would formally table the amendment to the British Bill of Rights, and her decision to do so was raised to Raab as he stood in for Boris Johnson during this week's Prime Minister's Questions.
"The position, as she knows, is settled in UK law in relation to abortion," Raab said of Creasy's move. "It's decided by honourable members across this House. It’s an issue of conscience. I don’t think there is a strong case for change."
He went on: "What I wouldn’t want to do is find ourselves, with the greatest of respect, in the US position where this is being litigated through the courts rather than settled as it is now settled by honourable members in this House."
Tweeting about Raab's response the Daily Mirror's Political Editor, Lizzy Buchan, said: "Dominic Raab rules out backing an abortion rights amendment from @stellacreasy to the forthcoming Bill of Rights. Raab says it could mean abortion ends up being litigated in the courts if it was in the bill #PMQs".
In response, MP Creasy tweeted, "Why is the bill of rights good enough to protect your freedom of speech but not your womb from being interfered with?"
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) June 29, 2022
Abortion is currently legal in the UK, but it is only enshrined constitutionally – meaning it is completely protected, like freedom of speech – in Northern Ireland, as the rest of the country does not have a written constitution.
Although it's unlikely that access to abortion in the UK will be overturned as it has in the US, some MPs have raised concerns that anti-abortionists in the UK will be empowered by Roe v Wade. As such, there's been renewed calls for 'buffer zones' to be introduced around abortion clinics to prevent protesters from dissuading patients from entering.
Speaking about the US Supreme Court's decision, PM Boris Johnson told CNN: "The Roe v Wade judgment, when it came out, was of huge importance psychologically for people around the world, and it spoke of the advancement of the rights of women, I think."
He went on, "And I regret what seems to me to be a backward step. But, you know, I’m speaking as someone looking in from the outside."
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