BY No Author | January 9 2015 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Labour leader defends stance on abortion

SCO EXCLUSIVE: Jim Murphy says believes painful legal issue is a matter for personal conscience, not his Church

The new leader of the Scottish Labour Party has defended his stance on key issues after being accused of sending mixed messages to the Catholic community—to which he belongs—ahead of this year’s general election.

Newly-elected Scottish Labour Leader Jim Murphy (above), MP for East Renfrewshire, spoke exclusively to the SCO about his personal views on pro-life issues such as abortion and assisted suicide, and explained why his views differed from the Church’s on abortion.

Mr Murphy clarified his views on abortion.

“While I respect the Catholic Church’s right and need to take an absolute view on abortion, on this issue I take a different point of view than that of my Church,” he told the SCO.

“The law must reflect that a woman’s painful decision to have an abortion has to be a matter for her conscience, not a matter for the Church.

“The issue is multi-layered and complex, but I have a strong sense that neither Labour, nor any political party, should force one point of view or another on its members or the electorate.”

Mr Murphy, a married father of three, however, remains concerned about the portrayal of women in our society, and the sexualisation of young people.

He added that he sees an urgent need to address the underlying problems in Scottish society, such as poverty and lack of education, that not only contribute to the number of crisis pregnancies but also add to the pressure on services for the elderly.

“People have the right to die with dignity, but not to have their lives deliberately shortened,” he said, speaking of his opposition to both the member’s bill on assisted suicide before the Scottish parliament and Lord Falconer’s attempts to legalise assisted dying via Westminster legislation.

Mr Murphy, 47, a former cabinet and shadow cabinet minister at Westminster, told the SCO he contested the Scottish Labour leadership late last year as ‘the time was right, as more and more powers are being devolved to Scotland,’ and because ‘there was a vacancy’ as his predecessor Johann Lamont stood down.

One power he is set against devolving, however, is control of abortion, in line with his party’s opposition to the Smith Commission’s recommendation that the Scottish Government be allowed to take control of this matter.

“I am in favour of the devolution of powers that strengthen Scotland, and that are common sense,” the unionist politician said. “Abortion is not one of them.”

— Full interview with Jim Murphy MP, page 8 of this week’s print edition.



—Read the full version of this story in the January 9 print edition of the SCO in parishes.


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