Rees-Mogg faces backlash on abortion and gay marriage

What happened?

Jacob Rees-Mogg told the ITV show Good Morning Britain that abortion was “morally indefensible” in all circumstances, including rape. The Somerset MP, tipped as a possible Tory leader, said: “Life is sacrosanct and begins at the point of conception.” On same-sex marriage, he said he took “the teaching of the Catholic Church seriously” and that it was “completely clear” on the subject. But he added: “The democratic majority is entitled to have the laws of the land as they are.”

What the British media are saying

The BBC said that Rees-Mogg was the “first British politician in decades to publicly oppose abortion in all cases”. Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore called him a “thoroughly modern bigot”. Religious faith was no excuse, she said – this kind of fundamentalism “has no place in public life”.

Brendan O’Neill at Spiked said the backlash against Rees-Mogg had “the whiff of anti-religious prejudice”. It went beyond saying “He’s wrong” to “He’s so wrong he doesn’t belong in political life or polite society.” Such a view echoed a centuries-old suspicion of “Romans” and “doubt as to their fitness for public office”. Perhaps, he said, “there should be a test: everyone who enters public life could be asked, ‘Do you now or have you ever held traditional Catholic beliefs?’ That should weed them out.”

What Catholics are saying

Fraser Nelson, writing in the Daily Telegraph, pointed out that Rees-Mogg’s views were not unusual. “Most people in most countries consider abortion morally wrong.” Even in secularised Europe a quarter of people shared that view. “What is unusual was the reaction, and the rigour with which the new liberal orthodoxy is being policed,” he wrote.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection