News

Maria Caulfield MP: Backlash over new women’s role

Conservative MP for Lewes and cancer nurse Maria Caulfield criticised for her stand on abortion after promotion in cabinet reshuffle.
Maria Caulfield

Conservative MP for Lewes and cancer nurse Maria Caulfield criticised for her stand on abortion after promotion in cabinet reshuffle

A nurse and MP has defended her promotion to Conservative Party vice chair for women after criticism over her stance on abortion.

Cancer nurse Maria Caulfield has been MP for Lewes since 2015 and was promoted to the post during a reshuffle by prime minister Theresa May.

The appointment was criticised by the Labours shadow secretary for women and equalities Dawn Butler.

Appalling decision by @Theresa_May to promote Maria Caulfield to Vice Chair for Women given her stance on abortion. Women deserve to have the strongest advocates at the top of politics, not people who seek to restrict their rights and freedoms.

(((Dawn Butler MP)))

Conservative MP for Lewes and cancer nurse Maria Caulfield criticised for her stand on abortion after promotion in cabinet reshuffle

A nurse and MP has defended her promotion to Conservative Party vice chair for women after criticism over her stance on abortion.

Conservative Party vice chair for women Maria Caulfield

Cancer nurse Maria Caulfield has been MP for Lewes since 2015 and was promoted to the post during a reshuffle by prime minister Theresa May.

The appointment was criticised by the Labour’s shadow secretary for women and equalities Dawn Butler.

Ms Caulfield voted against a move in the Commons last year to decriminalise abortion. Existing law allows a termination in England and Wales before 24 weeks with the approval of two doctors and based on a woman's health.

Defending abortion stance and issue


Ms Caulfield defended both her stance on the issue and appointment. She told Nursing Standard: ‘I opposed this bill because I believe the current law works in supporting woman.

‘In the two years I have been an MP, I’ve never had any woman come and see me to say she was struggling to get an abortion or was facing prosecution for doing so.

She added: ‘In fact, in the last five years only two people have been prosecuted for procuring an abortion, one of which was a man who had beaten up his partner so badly that her baby was aborted.

‘The current law provides strong safeguards for vulnerable women who are at risk of being forced to have an abortion by a violent partner or family member and if these safeguards were to be lost, these women would be at risk.’

Right to choose

Ms Caulfield said although she is not against abortion or the right to choose, she could not support a bill that could allow abortion to term because babies can be born at 22-23 weeks and survive.

Her appointment was defended by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children who said a nurse had a right to express a personal opinion.

Ms Caulfield said she would be aiming to tackle equality of pay, childcare costs, pension rights and workplace equality, as part of her new job.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) was critical of Ms Caulfield.

A spokesperson said: ‘The bill, which despite passing the first legislative stage was unable to progress further due to the snap election, sought to protect women who in the most desperate of circumstances use medication purchased online to end a pregnancy.

‘That the new Conservative vice chair for women believes that these women should face up to life imprisonment is appalling.’

Further information


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs