With Theresa May’s recent cabinet reshuffles, many have praised her decision to create a more diverse cabinet, reflective of modern British society. Eleven women have been promoted, and the number of ethnic minorities have doubled. But, a significant cause of concern has been the appointment of Maria Caulfield as the Conservative Party’s vice chair for women.
May has been condemned by Women’s Rights Groups and anti-abortion campaigners due to Caulfield’s pro-life views. She has consistently voted against the decriminalisation of abortion, citing her Catholic upbringing as justification for her views.This leads to two key questions: is it right to appoint someone who is willing to restrict a woman’s freedom to represent women? And should religion play a part in politics?
Someone appointed to represent women should support a woman’s right to do as she wishes with her body. There are many reasons as to why women may want an abortion such as financial issues, medical problems and the inability to care for a child. Yet, this is irrelevant. A woman should not be criminalised for doing what is best for themselves, as this may lead to dangerous methods of terminating pregnancies. In general, this could have a damaging impact on women’s health overall.
In the past, religion and politics have been intertwined, both explicitly and implicitly. However, in modern society, this dynamic has come into conflict with issues such as women’s rights and gay rights, as progressive values and archaic teachings do not necessarily complement one another.
Religious beliefs should not affect one’s political position, especially if it negatively impacts the rights of specific groups. By criminalising abortion, a woman’s autonomy is taken away from them, and they are forced to deal with a situation which will adversely impact their lives.
Religious beliefs should not affect one’s political position, especially if it negatively impacts the rights of specific groups.
It is understandable that May wishes to appoint a female MP for a role representative of women. However, she should have been more careful with her choice of selection, choosing someone who wishes to advance the rights of women.
Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, said she was “staggered” by the appointment. “Women’s equality goes hand in hand with reproductive rights,” she said. “Someone who believes those rights should be restricted can never advocate effectively for us.”
Abortion is a personal choice, and it is understandable that some women may not wish to have one, yet no one should be prevented from accessing this procedure.