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Labour leadership candidate criticised over abortion stance

Rebecca Long-Bailey (Getty)

Rebecca Long-Bailey's opposition to late-term abortions for disabled babies was branded 'absolutely toxic' by one MP

The frontrunner in the leadership contest for Britain’s Labour Party has been criticised by the media and her fellow Labour MPs for opposing late-term abortions for disabled babies.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, who is Catholic, told her local deanery before December’s General Election that she did not agree with Britain’s current law, which allows unborn babies with disabilities to be aborted up to full term. Other abortions can happen up to 24 weeks.

The Daily Telegraph quoted an unnamed “prominent backbencher” who described her views as “absolutely toxic”, while rival candidate Jess Phillips appeared to criticise her position by stating: “I always have and always will trust women to make the decisions about their bodies”.

Ms Long-Bailey’s comments were unearthed and reported by a website called The Red Roar shortly before her leadership campaign received the backing of the influential far-left campaign group Momentum. Her spokesman suggested a rival leadership team had given the comments to the website in order to derail her campaign.

Her spokesman added that the Catholic MP “unequivocally supports a woman’s right to choose” and “only ever voted in favour of extending the right to abortion.”

Ms Long-Bailey made her comments in a response to questions from the Deanery of St John the Evangelist last year. 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’.”

She also said that pro-lifers should be able to stand as Labour candidates, and promised to ensure the Church’s views “are heard” in any public consultation on the issue.

Her spokesman said on Thursday: “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.”