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Charity says UK health secretary's views on abortion are "deeply concerning"

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Accused of placing personal beliefs against expert advice

A charity says it is deeply concerned about the new UK health secretary’s views on abortion.

Therese Coffey, who was appointed by prime minister Liz Truss as part of her new cabinet, previously voted to revoke access to at-home abortion care, and against extending abortion rights to women in Northern Ireland.

She also voted against making at-home abortion pills, introduced during the pandemic, permanently available in England and Wales.

Clare Murphy, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said it was concerned Coffey was placing her personal beliefs first.

Earlier this year, the new health secretary voted to revoke access to at-home abortion care, and recriminalise women who end their own pregnancies without the approval of two doctors.

"In doing so, Therese Coffey voted against the advice of leading medical bodies including Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the BMA.

"To have a health secretary who would place their personal beliefs above expert clinical guidance is deeply concerning."

Coffey, a practicing Catholic, introduced a motion in parliament in 2010 which called for mental health assessments for women seeking an abortion.

She voted against extending abortion rights to women in Northern Ireland and defended former health secretary Jeremy Hunt after he said he believed the abortion limit should be reduced to 12 weeks.

Clare Murphy added: "Anti-abortion protest activity is escalating, with women and clinic staff facing intimidation while seeking to access and provide an NHS-funded service," Ms Murphy said.

"Every week, women with complex medical conditions are forced to continue pregnancies against their will because of a lack of appointments within NHS hospital settings.

"We need a health secretary who wants to improve access to a medical procedure that one in three women will need in their lifetime, not impose further restrictions."