London mayoral candidate said children used abortion as contraception

Conservative Shaun Bailey accused of being ‘anti-women’ over remarks made in 2007

The Conservative London mayoral candidate, Shaun Bailey, said children used abortion services as contraception, in newly unearthed comments that have put him under further pressure.

Labour has urged Bailey to give assurances that he would not campaign to reduce the abortion time limit, after remarks in a 2007 Guardian interview were highlighted in which he expressed concern that terminations were being used flippantly by underage girls and said the limit should be reduced to 22 weeks.

“Our children are using abortion as contraceptive – this is the real problem,” Bailey said in the interview when he was running as the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith.

Bailey, who will stand against Labour’s Sadiq Khan in 2020, said he was “pro-choice” but favoured reducing the time limit from 24 weeks. “Unless there were mitigating circumstances, I would reduce it to 22 weeks.”

In a separate 2007 Times interview, Bailey again railed against contraception being offered to underage girls. “We do not do enough to deter our teenagers from becoming parents. In fact, we positively encourage it,” he said. “What kind of message does the fact that we hand out condoms to children as young as 13 send out?”

Bailey has been criticised for comments made the previous year to a parliamentary committee, when he said giving young people access to condoms was “normalising” sex and encouraging criminal behaviour.

“You have had local authorities up and down the country who go to schools and give children condoms and say they are combating teenage pregnancy. No, they are not,” Bailey said, in comments unearthed by Business Insider.

“You normalise sex and they feel it is their divine right to have it … That is one of the things that drives their self-esteem up or down and leads to crime.”

The Labour MP Rupa Huq, who has campaigned for exclusion zones around abortion clinics to protect women from protesters, said: “Shaun Bailey has surpassed even Boris Johnson with his negative attitudes towards women, multiculturalism, single parents and reproductive rights.

“Many Londoners will be deeply unhappy that a mayoral candidate in our city has called for abortion rights to be curtailed – particularly when the current mayor’s support has been so important in protecting women outside clinics.”

A spokesman for Bailey told the Guardian he was “pro-choice and for a woman’s right to choose”.

“Mr Bailey continues to believe that parents should be involved in discussions with their children about the responsibilities and possible outcomes that come with early sexual activity, and that abstinence should always be an option,” the spokesman said.

“That said, Mr Bailey obviously believes that contraception is preferable to unprotected sex under any circumstance.”

The comments come in a difficult week for the Conservative candidate after numerous newspapers and websites discovered other controversial comments. Bailey was also criticised for having said being a young single mother was a “career choice” and that good-looking girls “tend to have been around”.

Bailey also wrote in a pamphlet for the CPS thinktank in 2005 that accommodating Muslims and Hindus “robs Britain of its community” and risked thereby turning the country into a “crime-riddled cesspool”.


Jessica Elgot

The GuardianTramp

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