Abortion row breaks over Cosmo campaign

By Alyson Fixter

Cosmopolitan magazine has been credited with reopening the debate on
abortion at a politically-critical time after its interviews with the
three party leaders sparked major press coverage of the issue.

The magazine, which features interviews with Blair, Kennedy and
Howard this month as part of its “High Heel Vote” campaign, questioned
all three about their personal views on the topic in a piece beginning:
“Three men are fighting over you. No, it’s not a date they want – it’s
your vote!”

Michael Howard’s claim that the current system had
resulted in “abortion on demand” led to an endorsment from Cardinal
Cormac Murphy O’Connor, who withdrew his traditional support for Labour
and urged Catholic voters to judge politicians on their abortion stance.

The row was picked up by the Daily Mail, The Times, the BBC, the Daily Star and The Observer, among others.

Blair had originally said he had no plans to reopen the abortion debate, but may now be forced to, following the coverage.

Cosmo
editor Sam Baker said: “Abortion is a political hot potato – the fact
that all three party leaders, more or less, answered the question in a
straightforward fashion was a surprise to us and I think, had it not
been Cosmo that asked it, they may not have done so.

“It’s
fantastic that so-called women’s issues have been put front and centre
– and it’s not just the press, the broadcast coverage has been
incredible too – from the Today programme to the 10 o’clock news –
we’re delighted that the female vote is one that editors realise is
worthy of the front page.”

The Prime Minister’s office has said it would be “a pity” if abortion became a general election issue.

A
spokesman was quoted in the Daily Mirror saying: “The Prime Minister
believes this is a matter for a free vote and conscience on both sides
of the house.

“He believes, therefore, it should be debated in a calm and rational non-partisan way.”

Glamour
magazine also runs interviews with the party leaders this month,
carried out by Miranda Sawyer (Blair), Jane Moore (Howard) and Lucy
Cavendish (Kennedy).

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