Sixty Church of England bishops have joined Muslim and Jewish leaders in calling for the two-child limit on benefits to be scrapped.
The number of abortions is likely to increase, the faith leaders warn, as women are forced to restrict the number of children they have. The policy, which has been in place for a year today, also 'conveys the regrettable message that some children matter less than others, depending on their place in the sibling birth order,' they say in a letter to the Times today.
Sarah Mullally, the bishop-elect of London, joined the bishop of Durham, Methodist and Quaker leaders as well as Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain and Gillian Merron, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, in warning 200,000 people will be tipped into poverty.
'The policy is making it harder for parents to achieve a stable and resilient family life,' the letter says.
'Most are low-earning working families, most have three children and some will have made decisions about family size when they were able to support children through earnings alone, but later claimed tax credits or universal credit after bereavement, redundancy, separation, disability, illness or simply low pay.'
They add: 'It is a grave concern that there are likely to be mothers who will face an invidious choice between poverty and terminating an unplanned pregnancy.
'Children are a private joy and a public good. They are all equally deserving of subsistence support.'
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions told the paper: '[The policy] will be delivered in the most effective, compassionate way, with the right exceptions and safeguards. But it's right that people on benefits have to make the same financial choices as those supporting themselves solely through work.'