I say this for Jacob Rees-Mogg: He’s predictable. Dangerous, insincere, arrogant – but predictable. Yesterday he delivered another of his rousing anti-abortion speeches – this time at a debate in Westminster Hall on an abortion proposal to be included in the government’s proposed Bill of Rights. He never tires of taking care of the kids, this one.
Given all his talk about protecting babies, you’d expect him to be a staunch supporter of affordable childcare – especially for the most vulnerable families – a passionate advocate for free school meals to ensure no child in the UK goes hungry, and a staunch supporter of poverty alleviation.
Remember when UNICEF had to step in during the Covid-19 pandemic and feed underprivileged children in the UK – the UN agency’s first national emergency response in its history? Rees-Mogg accused them of a “political stunt”. And back when he said the increased use of food banks was “pretty uplifting”?
Right, the MP for North East Somerset is just saying ‘think of the babies!’ while they are still fetuses. As soon as they come out of the womb and really need help, his heartfelt “liking for life” suddenly seems to disappear. It’s funny. It’s one of the most startling contradictions of those who call themselves “pro-life” that they are happy to ignore the needs of children and adults alike – but fetuses must remain sacrosanct.
To me, it’s almost like it’s not about “babies” at all; it’s almost as if it’s about controlling women’s reproductive rights instead. However, I’m sure that’s not the case with Rees-Mogg. He has integrity. Oh no wait, sorry I misunderstood that; I’m just looking at my notes here and it seems to be the exact opposite.
Rees-Mogg doesn’t mind making a mint of abortion pills “in a very roundabout way” in Indonesia, and he doesn’t seem overly concerned about one or two (or a hundred thousand) needless deaths from draconian policies that effectively penalize people for that they are poor.
Despite this, he can handle words. To be honest, his rhetoric almost brought me to tears (with horror) during the abortion debate.
He used every trick in the book. Incendiary language? Check: The former Speaker of the House of Commons spoke of essential health care as “killing babies”. Demonizing supporters of reproductive freedom? Check: He called abortion rights a “death cult.” But there goes the Moggster – forever serving up 19th-century attitudes to a 21st-century society.
MP for Walthamstow Stella Creasy had none of it. She tweeted a damning indictment of Rees-Mogg’s remarks during the debate. “If you think we don’t need to legislate that women have the human right to choose to have an abortion, Rees-Mogg has just argued that women who are victims of rape or incest have a right to an abortion . Women deserve equal rights. Whoever is in government, #trustWomen.” Well, it seems you can trust Rees-Mogg to attack women’s bodily autonomy whenever he gets the chance.
Rees-Mogg’s gutter politics certainly put him in a difficult position to assert moral superiority over anyone, but condemning those who have had abortions and those who advocate for reproductive rights is a new low even for him – and it is there are so many depths to choose from.
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Remember after tipping over Deer vs Wade, how many women in England breathed a sigh of relief that our reproductive rights were safe in this country? Rees-Mogg’s comments at Westminster Hall should disprove anyone who still believes access to abortion – a form of essential and life-saving healthcare – is not at risk here either.
His impassioned speech – which effectively advocated endangering the lives of women across the country – comes shortly after government documents outlining plans to restrict access to home abortion were leaked. Not surprisingly, such a move would harm the most vulnerable women – those at risk of domestic violence and those who are homeless. But then again, Rees-Mogg doesn’t seem to care about those lives. These lives do not fit his political narrative at all. Not a bit.
How many needless deaths have the Tories caused since coming to power? never mind They don’t matter anyway. Not for Rees-Mogg it seems. Apparently he is more interested in the insidious, slow but certain erosion of women’s right to bodily autonomy.
This guy who never gets pregnant by a rapist, this guy who never gets pregnant, this guy who never needs an abortion. This guy dares to denounce the women who experience all these things. This guy, with his extravagant wealth and every conceivable privilege, dares to make the lives of the weakest women worse.
You know, we’re doing Rees-Mogg a disservice by sending him up as a Victorian Halloween ghoul; it undermines its – very real – threat. Access to abortion is not guaranteed in England, and abortion is still criminalised: under the Abortion Act 1967, any woman terminating a pregnancy without the legal permission of two doctors – who must agree that continuing the pregnancy is the would affect the physical or mental health of the woman Health – may face life imprisonment.
Our abortion laws are as archaic as Rees-Mogg’s mindset, and we must recognize that our reproductive rights are fragile. Rees-Mogg speaks of abortion as “life-destroying,” but he’s not concerned about the destruction of women’s lives. we should be