'Faith issues' to dominate Tories' US-style campaign
Published 08/04/2010 | 05:00
Conservative leader David Cameron pledged to review Britain's abortion laws and stop assisted suicide in a move designed to place religious issues at the forefront of the British election campaign.
The Conservative leader said that he would personally favour reducing the abortion limit from 24 weeks to 20 or 22 weeks.
Under a package of reforms backed by Mr Cameron, faith schools would also be able to teach sex education as they wished.
The Conservative leader laid out his plans in an interview with 'The Catholic Herald', one of his first interviews of the election campaign. It is understood that Mr Cameron's aides requested the interview.
Abortion and other 'faith' issues dominate American election campaigns and Mr Cameron's focus on the subject is the latest indication of the growing use of US-style campaigning by the Conservatives.
Yesterday, the Conservatives successfully blocked Labour plans to introduce compulsory sex education in schools, a measure which was due to be rushed through parliament before the election.
Next week, Mr Cameron will set out new plans to give tax breaks to younger couples after they marry.
In the interview, Mr Cameron said: "My own view is that we do need to review the abortion limit. I think that the way medical science and technology have developed in the past few decades does mean that an upper limit of 20 or 22 weeks would be sensible.
"I'll continue to support a modest reduction in the abortion limit. But what's really important here is that members of parliament are always allowed a free vote on this issue."
Although Mr Cameron has previously voted to reduce the abortion limit, his decision to raise the issue during the early days of the election campaign is likely to prove divisive. It will be welcomed by many Christians but may anger women's groups.
Mr Cameron also reiterated his opposition to assisted suicide. The Crown Prosecution Service recently published guidelines which meant those helping people wanting to die were less likely to face charges.
The Conservative leader said: "My personal view is that if assisted dying is legalised, there is a danger that terminally ill people may feel pressurised into ending their lives if they feel they've become a burden on loved ones. I don't believe anyone should be put in this position. So no, I don't support any change in the law."
Mr Cameron said that he did not favour overturning the controversial Human Embryology Act, which allows the creation of hybrid human and animal embryos. But he said that faith schools should be given freedom over how they taught sex education. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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