Conservative backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg has said he is entitled to his views after he was branded "extreme" after expressing opposition to abortion in all circumstances, including rape and incest.
Mr Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, has found himself in the limelight after being mentioned as a future successor to Prime Minister Theresa May.
The Catholic father-of-six dismissed the chatter as "very flattering" and "good fun" and said he was not vain enough to believe he could move into Number 10.
But since the speculation, Mr Rees-Mogg's views on abortion and gay marriage have come under increasing scrutiny.
Challenged over his position on social issues, he told ITV1's Good Morning Britain earlier this week: "I'm completely opposed to abortion. Life begins at the point of conception."
Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: "I'm allowed to say what I think and people are absolutely entitled to say back what they think.
"I believe in free speech - and protecting it - is very important.
"Rape is a great evil and a terrible crime, but that's not made better by then aborting the unborn child.
"The Catholic Church's teachings are authoritative. To take a life after a rape is not the answer. "Life begins at the point of conception. One can only feel compassion for a woman in these situations - which, of course are rare - but it's hard to see how taking a child's life makes them better."
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