The big story
✣ Manifesto launch puts spotlight on abortion
Britain’s political parties have released their manifestos, ahead of the general election on December 12. The two major parties are divided over Brexit, with the Conservatives promising to leave the European Union next year and Labour pledging to offer a new referendum, and over public spending, which Labour plan to expand by £83 billion, the Tories by £2.9 billion. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have said they will expand abortion access and sex education.
What the manifestos say
The Lib Dem manifesto promises to “Decriminalise abortion across the UK while retaining the existing 24-week limit”. It is unclear how the limit would be retained, since it is currently contained within criminal law: the head of BPAS, Britain’s largest abortion provider, has said that “there should be no legal upper limit – that is what taking it out of the criminal law means”. Labour’s manifesto says they would “decriminalise abortions”, without mentioning the 24-week limit, potentially opening the way to abortion on demand. The party have since said they would introduce “regulations”, without clarifying what these would be. Labour would also fund schools to “deliver mandatory LGBT+ inclusive relationships and sex education”.
What commentators are saying
In the Daily Mail, Melanie McDonagh said Labour could make Britain’s abortion law one of the most radical in the world. “The party says the procedures would be ‘properly regulated’ even though they’d be outside the law. But how? By whom? And to what effect?” The proposal “takes us into a very dark place where the humanity of the foetus isn’t acknowledged,” McDonagh wrote. In the Scottish newspaper The Herald, Kevin McKenna said that the Scottish bishops’ pre-election letter had been “interpreted as an instruction not to vote Conservative”. This was too simplistic, McKenna wrote. But the letter expressed “anger about the increase of food banks” and urged politicians to welcome refugees. The overwhelming tone, McKenna wrote, was “left/liberal … I think the Church has just about got the balance right.”