Tory Favorite Rails Against Abortion—Even When a Woman Is Raped

One of Theresa May’s Conservative lawmakers --- a man some activists would like to take over from her -- defied U.K. public opinion and his party’s position to condemn gay marriage and abortion, even in rape cases.

"I’m completely opposed to abortion; life begins at the point of conception,” Jacob Rees-Mogg, a staunch Catholic, told ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” show. When pushed further, and asked if that applied to all circumstances, he responded: “I’m afraid so. Life is sacrosanct and begins at the point of conception and I think it is wrong.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Photographer: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

With Boris Johnson now bound by ministerial office, Rees-Mogg used the summer months to raise his profile amid calls from grassroots activists for him to run as the party’s next leader. Wednesday’s comments appeared to have diminished his chances, with bookmaker Paddy Power Plc lengthening his odds to 8-1 from 6-1.

Rees-Mogg, who habitually wears a pin-stripe suit, takes his babysitter campaigning with him and admits never changing a single diaper of any of his six children. He is benefiting from Tory members’ antipathy for May after her disastrous electoral showing and also appeals to the Brits’ love of an eccentric -- although his latest remarks may change that.

Data from the latest British Social Attitudes survey published in August reveal widespread support for allowing abortions in a number of different circumstances. There is near unanimous support -- 93 percent -- for abortions when the woman’s health is endangered.

On Tuesday, the lawmaker appeared to rule himself out of holding ministerial office: “In a way you have a great deal more freedom to discuss issues from the backbenches because I’m not bound by collective responsibility.”

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