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Lib Dem leader abandons anti-abortion stance after Guardian questioning

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron on the campaign trail during the 2017 general election (Getty Images)

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has recanted of his previous anti-abortion views and declared himself “pro-choice” after being confronted over remarks he made 10 years ago.

The Lib Dem leader said in a 2007 interview with Salvation Army publication War Cry that “abortion is wrong”, adding: “Society has to climb down from the position that says there is nothing objectionable about abortion before a certain time. If abortion is wrong, it is wrong at any time.”

He went on to argue, however, that abortion should not be “abolished tomorrow”.

“Women would still want abortions and they’d have them illegally,” he said. “So a complete ban on abortion would not achieve what I want.

“The reality is that abortion is too widely available. There needs to be tighter restrictions. The challenge to Christians is to come up with realistic alternative strategies.”

When asked about the subject by ITV last week, however, he said he supports the law as it stands, and refused to be drawn on his personal view of the practice, saying: “Again, what one believes in one’s personal private faith is just that.”

Now the Guardian reports that Farron has climbed down on his 2007 comments after it questioned him over the Salvation Army interview. “I am pro-choice. I believe that abortion should be safe and legal and that the limit should be set by science,” he told the paper.

He also claimed in a tweet that he had never “heard of or read or seen” the War Cry publication.

The questions came after he faced repeated grillings on whether he thought gay was a sin. He initially refused to state his view, saying his faith was a private matter, but eventually told the BBC he did not think it was sinful.