“Jacob Rees-Mogg’s latest comments on abortion are wrong on so many levels”

The Tory MP has described abortion as a “cult of death” in a parliamentary debate. Here’s why his words are so wrong (and dangerous).     

Another day, another man thinking he has the right to comment on what women do and don’t do with their bodies. This time, the man in question is none other than Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who chose to describe abortion as a “cult of death” during a debate about whether or not to add abortion to the new UK Bill Of Rights.

“I think the destruction of life is wrong,” he said in parliament. “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.”

He continued: “This is about destroying life. This is the cult of death. It is the great tragedy of abortion, and it is considered normal. The extraordinarily high number of babies that are destroyed is something that should sadden us all to the depths of our souls.” 

Rejecting the petition, Rees-Mogg added that it was “wrong constitutionally” and “much more wrong morally” because to add abortion to the Bill of Rights “prefers death to life”.

Despite the conviction with which he made his argument, Rees-Mogg’s words were more than just morally and ethically wrong – they were inaccurate. Just as many anti-abortion activists have done before, Rees-Mogg used a barrage of incendiary language to demonise the provision of potentially life-saving healthcare, and in doing so, made a mockery of the argument he was trying to make. Let’s recap, shall we? 

First things first, abortion is not the ‘destruction of life’. Abortion is, put simply, the medical process of ending a pregnancy – the termination of a foetus using medication or, in some cases, surgery. In the UK, abortions are typically carried out before the pregnancy reaches 24 weeks, except in very limited circumstances (for example, when the mother’s life is at risk). That’s it. There’s no massive ‘destruction’ or horrific dismembering. It is healthcare. And it is vital.

Is Rees-Mogg aware that he’s not able to get pregnant?

Secondly, the idea that abortion is a cult of death is, quite frankly, laughable. In many cases, abortion is life-saving – and even when the pregnant person’s life is not at risk, it can still save them from being put into a situation they’re not emotionally or financially ready for.

Rees-Mogg won’t know this (because, as he seems unable to comprehend, he’s not actually able to get pregnant) but having a baby is a lot more than just having a bump and giving birth at the end – and in this way, abortion can save lives for a myriad of reasons.     

Last, but by no means least, the idea that giving women the right to choose somehow means that they “[prefer] death to life” is simply outrageous. Despite what anti-abortion activists may believe, choosing to get an abortion is not a decision made lightly, and many women struggle to come to terms with making the decision that is right for them. 

Painting those who get abortions as members of a “cult of death” is highly offensive and fails to appreciate what it’s like to be in that position – something Rees-Mogg will, again, never know.

While Rees-Mogg’s latest comments are far from surprising – he’s previously made it clear that he’s “completely opposed” to abortion, including in cases of rape and incest – it’s still disappointing to see such incendiary and inaccurate language being used to describe a legislative change that would give women the right to choose what’s right for their bodies.

Indeed, as the Labour MP Stella Creasy, who is campaigning for the right to choose to be added to the new Bill Of Rights, put it on Twitter: “If you think we don’t need to codify in law that women have a human right to choose to have an abortion, Jacob Rees-Mogg just argued against women who are victims of rape or incest having a right to have one. Women deserve equal rights. Whoever is in government.”

Rees-Mogg’s argument is further proof as to why we need abortion rights codified in UK law – so that women are able to maintain control over what’s rightfully ours. 

BPAS, the British Pregnancy Advice Service, provides abortion support and advice online, or call MSI Reproductive Choices (formerly Marie Stopes) on 0345 300 8090, 365 days a year, 7am to 8pm

Images: Getty

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