Therese Coffey Says She Won’t Seek To Undo Abortion Laws Despite Previous Opposition
New health secretary Therese Coffey has said she will not seek to undo abortion laws. (Alamy)
Newly appointed Health Secretary Therese Coffey has said she won’t seek to overturn current abortion laws despite having previously voted against extending rights.
Coffey, who was appointed to the crucial department by Liz Truss on Tuesday, has dismissed suggestions she could aim to restrict current abortion laws, despite previously voting against recent changes allowing women to undergo the procudure at home, or extending rights to Northern Ireland.
Abortion charities have criticised the new Health Secretary, who has also been given the role of Deputy Prime Minister, claiming she had put her personal beliefs “above expert clinical guidance”.
Pointing to Coffey's previous voting record on abortion rights, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said her appointment to the top health role was “deeply concerning”.
But speaking to Sky News, she said she was a “complete democrat” and accepted the change in abortion rights.
“I am conscious I have voted against abortion laws, what I will say is I am a complete democrat and that is done so its not I’m seeking to undo any aspect of abortion laws,” she explained.
Coffey, a practicing Catholic has previously said she would “prefer” that people didn’t have abortions but said she would not “condemn” those who do.
Coffey takes over the job of Health Secretary with the NHS in crisis as a result of huge backlogs for treatment and a shortfall in staff. There is particular concern that the tougher winter months could put the health service under further pressure.
The former work and pensions secretary stated her key priorities in the new job as "ABCD", referring to ambulances, backlogs, care, doctors and dentists.
"I haven’t even considered those other sorts of issues," she said when asked about her stance on abortion.
“I am very conscious that people need to have access to the NHS and there is nothing more to say here or see here.”
Truss has already faced criticism over her plans to reverse the increase in National Insurance Contributions introduced earlier this year, which was aimed at raising around £12bn for health and social care services.
But Coffey insisted the level of funding for the NHS would remain the same.
“Instead of having in effect a ring-fenced levy, we will be funding that out of general taxation, so the investment going into health and social care will stay exactly the same,” she told LBC.
She did admit that patients had “suffered” in recent months as the number of people waiting for ambulances or appointments with doctors soared due to pressures in the health service.
But she vowed to take further steps to improve services. “I want to use every capacity that we can in this country because what happens is the outcome for patients,” she added.
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