Therese Coffey told ITV News that laws on abortion are settled
The new Health Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Therese Coffey says she's "not planning to make any government changes" on abortion laws in the UK, after questions were raised about her past voting record.
Ms Coffey is a practicing Catholic who recently voted against making take-at-home abortion pills, which were introduced during the pandemic, more widely available.
"The law on abortion is settled," she told ITV News.
"I'm a democrat, my focus is going to be on the ABCD (ambulances, backlogs, care, doctors and dentists), but it's important we keep focus on what affects the majority of the patients, as well as of course individuals.
"I'm not planning to make any government changes."
During an interview in June, just after the US Supreme Court made the landmark decision to overturn the Roe vs Wade ruling which gave abortion in the United States constitutional protection, the then Work and Pensions Minister said she'd "prefer that people didn't have abortions."
The Chief Executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service told ITV News that “Every politician is entitled to hold their own opinion on abortion. But what matters is whether they would let their own personal convictions stand in the way of women’s ability to act on their own."
Clare Murphy added that "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...to have a Health Secretary who would place their personal beliefs above expert clinical guidance is deeply concerning."
What could this government mean for LGBTQ+ rights?
ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand points out that Ms Coffey voted against extending same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland in 2019, along with fellow cabinet appointees Jacob Rees-Mogg, Simon Clarke, and Suella Braverman.
"This is significant not because every cabinet (a relatively small number of ministers) can be expected to perfectly represent every minority.
"But because it is largely LGBT issues over which the so-called ‘culture wars’ are being waged. It gives us an idea of the government’s leaning," he wrote.
What is Ms Coffey's 'ABCD' NHS plan?
Ms Coffey has mentioned several times that she has an ABCD plan to deal with a crisis in the NHS. The letters stand for ambulances, backlogs, care, and doctors and dentists.
The Health Service is under extreme pressure as it deals with post-pandemic backlog, along with long ambulance handover delays around the country and increased difficulty for people trying to book GP and dentist appointments.
Ms Coffey, who has a PhD in chemistry, said that health and social care will be funded through general taxation.
She was asked about the challenge of paying for health and social care without the guarantee of extra funds from the soon-to-be-axed National Insurance increase.
Ms Coffey told Sky News: “The intention is that will be funded from general taxation and that is the case, so we will continue to invest the same amount into health and social care that we would setting out through the levy”.