David Cameron intensified the controversy over abortion yesterday as he supported a lowering of the time-limit in which terminations can be carried out.
In comments that delighted campaigners for a cut in the existing 24-week deadline, the Prime Minister said he favoured a "modest reduction" in the period.
His comments came after the new Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, stunned women's groups and health professionals by disclosing that he backed halving the limit to 12 weeks after conception.
Maria Miller, the Women's Minister, and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, have supported a reduction to 20 weeks.
The Prime Minister yesterday stressed the Government had no plans to try to amend the abortion legislation, although he suggested the time could be right for MPs to return to the subject.
He told The Andrew Marr Show: "Parliament does vote from time to time about these issues," adding: "My own view is that a modest reduction from 24 weeks would be right and I would vote for that."
When the issue was debated by the Commons in 2008, Mr Cameron supported a reduction to 22 or 20 weeks, although yesterday he stressed he opposed a 12-week limit.
Privately senior Tory figures are dismayed that Mr Hunt's remarks overshadowed the beginning of the Conservative conference in Birmingham – and particularly plans for a £140m boost to nursing.
- More about: