Gillian Anderson: Maria Caulfield's appointment 'devastating step backwards'

Gillian Anderson: Maria Caulfield's appointment 'devastating step backwards'”

The X-Files star commented after Theresa May made Maria Caulfield the Conservative Party's vice chair for women during Monday's reshuffle.

But termination provider BPAS said it was dismayed at the appointment, as Caulfield has previously spoken out against the decriminalisation of abortion and shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler said the government's decision was "appalling".

Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women's Equality Party, said: "Women will never have equality until they have full control over their own bodies".

Abortion is widely available in the rest of the United Kingdom, under the 1967 Abortion Act, which does not decriminalise it but allows it under specific circumstances - including the approval of two doctors - up to 24 weeks.

Past year research published in the journal Contraception attributed an increase in the number of women illegally buying abortion pills online to difficulties in making the multiple trips to a clinic required for abortion.

Without permission, abortion remains a criminal offence under the 1967 Abortion Act.

Campaigners, including Johnson, have sought to remove the procedure from criminal law in order to allow women, many of whom struggle to access abortion services, greater freedom when choosing whether or not to continue a pregnancy.

The Labour MP also drew attention to Ms Caulfield's support for Toby Young's appointment to the board of a new Office for Students - following a series of what she called "dreadful and misogynistic tweets".

She said it would become a "charter for extreme abortion practices", including sex-selective abortion.

Theresa May's decision to appoint Maria Caulfield as Tory vice chair for women has been met with fierce criticism from pro Choice groups over her role in leading the opposition to proposals to decriminalise som

"I am very disappointed that the PM has appointed Maria Caulfield to the role of vice chair of the Conservative party with responsibility for women", Johnson told BuzzFeed News.

It said Ms Caulfield had been a "leading opponent" of the proposed bill, which did not become law and has not been reintroduced since last year's general election.

'Maria Caulfield has stated that she wants to be a "voice for the unborn child". "Should these women face criminal prosecution?", "According to the new CCHQ vice chair for women, yes".

"It is profoundly disappointing that the Conservative party did not think that a better choice for vice chair for women would be someone willing and able to speak up for the 1 in 3 women who will have an abortion in their lifetime".

"Caulfield's views are out of step with members of the public & her own parliamentary party", BPAS said on Twitter.

The Labour MP's bill was a so-called Ten Minute Rule Bill, which does not lead to a change in the law but was passed by 172 votes to 142, in an indication of cross-party support for the law change.

She argued that any attempts to change the law would bring "unjust and oppressive change" and put women and unborn children at risk.

A fresh debate on the decriminalisation of abortion in England and Wales was sparked in July, when doctors backed overhauling the 1967 Abortion Act.

She said it was an "important issue".

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