Tory leadership front-runner Hunt says abortion limit should be cut from 24 weeks to 12

Foreign secretary refused to rule out a reduction in 24-week limit if he became prime minister – but said it would not be government policy

Alex Matthews-King
Health Correspondent
Sunday 09 June 2019 15:26
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Conservative leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt says he would like to see the legal time limit on abortions reduced from 24 weeks to 12

Jeremy Hunt has said he believes the time limit for having an abortion should be halved from 24 weeks to 12 in an interview about his prime ministerial ambitions.

When he was health secretary, Mr Hunt said he would back a call to cut the legal abortion limit – he has now confirmed this is still what he believes.

He did not guarantee that the time limit would remain unchanged should he emerge victorious from the crowded race to replace Theresa May as Conservative Party leader.

While it would not be part of his government’s agenda, he said any legislation brought forward by backbench MPs on the issue would be put to the House of Commons.

“My view hasn’t changed on that,” the foreign secretary said when asked if he still believed 12 weeks should be the abortion limit, in an interview with Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

When asked to guarantee the 24-week limit would stay under a Hunt government, he said: “What I can guarantee is this will be a matter for the House of Commons, not a matter for government policy.

“The prime minister will have his view just like every one of the 650 MPs and these will be decided as a matter of conscience.

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“But it won't be a government policy to change the law in that respect.

“It won't be government policy to have a vote. If backbenchers choose to have a vote, it would be a free vote and everyone will vote with their conscience.”

Mr Hunt said in a 2012 interview that he had reached his view after reviewing the evidence on abortion and said that, while he is a Christian, it was not a decision he had reached because of his faith.

The issue has resurfaced in a leadership race which has seen one frontrunner, Dominic Raab, declare he is “probably not” a feminist.

Meanwhile Mr Raab, Mr Hunt and half a dozen other contenders have also opened up about their past experiences with illicit drugs.

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