More cabinet ministers support reduction in abortion time limit
Two more Conservative cabinet members, Jeremy Hunt and Theresa May, have said that they support reducing the legal time limit for abortion after Women’s Minister Maria Miller came out in favour of the change last week.
In an interview with The Times, Health Secretary Mr Hunt said that he believes the upper limit of abortion should be cut from 24 weeks to 12, having reached his view after considering the available "evidence".
He said: “Everyone looks at the evidence and comes to a view about when they think that moment is, and my own view is that 12 weeks is the right point for it.”
“It’s just my view about that incredibly difficult question about the moment that we should deem life to start.”
When questioned in light of Mr Hunt’s remarks, Home Secretary Theresa May commented that she believes the legal time limit should be cut from 24 weeks to 20.
“I think there is scope for some reduction,” Mrs May told Radio 4’s Today programme. “My personal view is a reduction to 20 weeks.”
This made her the third cabinet minister in less than a week to express support for lowering the abortion limit.
Maria Miller, the new Minister for Women, told the Daily Telegraph last week that she favoured a reduction from 24 weeks to 20.
She added that it was “common sense” to revisit the upper limit since improvements in medical care had made it possible for babies born before 24 weeks to survive.
Commenting on the developments, PM David Cameron said on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday (7 October) that he also backed “a modest reduction” because there are “some medical arguments for that.”
Prior to his appointment as Prime Minister, Mr Cameron said during the 2010 election campaign that he favoured a reduction“to 20 or 22 weeks.”
A number of Conservative cabinet members have previously backed a change in the law, with 13 out of 16 – including Mr Cameron – voting to reduce the abortion limit during the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in 2008.
In January, a YouGov poll found that 49 per cent of British women wanted a reduction in the abortion limit.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, welcomed the comments by cabinet ministers. She said:
“These comments have re-ignited debate on an issue which has too often been side lined.
“The opinions of the cabinet are aligning with public opinion on abortion, many of whom –particularly women – believe that the abortion time limit of 24 weeks is too high.
“Let’s pray that these results will be followed by some positive and concrete action on the matter.”