Earlier this week I used an editorial to welcome Liam Fox's mournful reference to Britain's massive number of abortions. I described his reference as a demonstration of political "courage". By that standard Dr Fox was a lot braver on yesterday's Morgan & Platell programme. This morning's Telegraph quotes him as saying:
"I would like to see the time limit reduced. I'd like to see it brought down serially from 20 [weeks]. I'd like to see it well below 20; I'd like to see us looking at limits more akin to some of the European countries at 12 to 14 weeks. I think that a society that actually aborts 180,000 unborn children every year is a society that needs to be asking a lot of questions about itself… For me it's a simple personal belief. It says, thou shall not kill, it doesn't say, thou shall not kill unless Parliament says it's OK."
The Telegraph notes that Britain's laws are amongst the most permissive in Europe. "In France, " it notes, "abortion after 12 weeks is allowed only if two doctors say that a woman's health is endangered or the foetus has a serious abnormality. In Sweden, abortion is provided free and on demand until week 18. After that, a woman must secure permission from a medical board. Denmark imposes limits after 16 weeks."
The Observer found that the other leading candidates took much more pragmatic views on abortion:
"David Cameron and David Davis's camps made clear yesterday that both men support lowering the limit, but only to 18-20 and 20 weeks respectively. Kenneth Clarke declined to comment, but has previously opposed lowering the limit."
It's easy to say that Dr Fox's expression of these views is a crude tactic to attract the views of the socially conservative Cornerstone Group but there is no doubting Dr Fox's sincerity on pro-life matters. He has been a long-standing opponent of abortion and established an advisory group on medical ethics when he was Conservative health spokesman.