PRO-CHOICE activists have condemned the appointment of Maria Caulfield as the Conservative Party’s vice chair for women.

The Lewes MP led Parliamentary opposition to proposals to decriminalise some later abortions.

She argued that any attempts to change the law would bring “unjust and oppressive change” and put women and unborn children at risk.

A spokeswoman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) said: “We are shocked the Conservative Party has decided to appoint as their vice chair for women an MP who supports the criminalisation of women who end their own pregnancies.

“Just last year, Caulfield led the Parliamentary opposition to a Bill which would have decriminalised abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.”

Ms Caulfield spoke against the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill in March.

Under current laws, it is illegal for a woman to have an abortion after 24 weeks for non-medical reasons.

Each procedure must be signed off by two doctors before it can go ahead.

Bpas said the legislation sought to protect women who “in the most desperate of circumstances” use medication purchased online to end a pregnancy.

The Bpas spokeswoman said: “That the new Conservative vice chair for women believes that these women should face up to life imprisonment is appalling.

“Maria Caulfield has stated that she wants to be a ‘voice for the unborn child’.

“It is profoundly disappointing that the Conservative Party did not think that a better choice for vice chair for women would be someone willing and able to speak up for the one in three women who will have an abortion in their lifetime.”

In the Commons debate on the Bill last year, Ms Caulfield said: “Too often today, debates about abortion – about the risks involved and the rights of the unborn child – are shut down.

“But I, and many colleagues who share my views, will not be silenced as we seek to be a voice for the voiceless, and as we argue for more modern and humane abortion law that upholds not only the dignity and rights of women but the dignity and rights of the unborn child.”

Ms Caulfield said criminal convictions for women were extremely rare and those seeking abortions were not “living under the constant shadow of arrest”.