After Sunak's Cabinet reshuffle, where do new ministers stand on abortion and assisted suicide?

(Photo: Unsplash/Jurica Koletić)

After the sudden dismissal of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary earlier today, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has undertaken a major cabinet reshuffle ahead of his Autumn Statement next week.

Former Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, who, in an apparent reference to the coming introduction of abortion buffer zones across the UK, told police in September that "silent prayer, within itself, is not unlawful", has been replaced by James Cleverly, the former Foreign Secretary.

Cleverly has tended to abstain on votes related to life issues although, in 2015, he did vote against a bill to legalise assisted suicide in England and Wales. However, more recently, he has voted in favour of giving the Northern Ireland Secretary new powers to impose the commissioning of abortion services on the region.

David Cameron appointed Foreign Secretary

Former Prime Minister, David Cameron, will be taking over Cleverly's position as Foreign Secretary. Although absent from politics since 2016, the former PM indicated his support for reducing the abortion limit from 24 to 20 weeks in 2012. In 2008 he said "I would like to see a reduction in the current limit, as it is clear that, due to medical advancement, many babies are surviving at 24 weeks".

In 2014, as PM he described sex-selective abortion as "simply an appalling practice", although in 2015 he abstained from voting for an explicit ban of the practice. In the same year, he also abstained from voting on an attempt to make assisted suicide legal.

The former Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, who is the new Environment Secretary, has been replaced by MP for Louth and Horncastle, Victoria Atkins. Atkins supported the introduction of 'DIY' home abortions as a permanent feature of the law in England. More recently, she has supported the introduction of abortion buffer zones, including making it illegal to offer help outside abortion clinics.

New Environment Secretary Steve Barclay has previously voted in favour of giving the Northern Ireland Secretary new powers to impose the commissioning of abortion services on the region, as well as in support of the creation of three-parent embryos in 2015. However, in the same year, he voted against making assisted suicide legal and in favour of an explicit ban on sex-selective abortion.

Minister of State (Minister for Health and Secondary Care) Will Quince and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Primary Care and Public Health) Neil O'Brien will also likely be replaced though that information has not yet been released. Their full voting records of life issues can be viewed below.

A number of other government ministers have also been moved, though not all the new positions have been confirmed. 

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