I believe abortion limit should be 12 weeks, says Jeremy Hunt

 

Nigel Morris
Saturday 06 October 2012 03:40
Comments

Jeremy Hunt, the new Health Secretary, supports halving the legal abortion limit from 24 weeks to 12 weeks after conception, it emerged last night.

Although he stressed the Government had no plans to alter the current cut-off, his surprise intervention will reopen the controversy over when abortions should be carried out.

His comments provoked immediate criticism last night from medical groups.

Mr Hunt said in an interview with The Times: "There's an incredibly difficult question about the moment we should deem life to start... I'm not someone who thinks that abortion should be made illegal.

"Everyone looks at the evidence and comes to a view about when that moment is and my own view is that 12 weeks is the right point for it."

He said he had previously voted in favour of a 12-week limit and had not changed his view.

Although he is a Christian, he said he had not reached his view because of his faith, adding: "There are some issues that cut across health and morality, a bit like capital punishment does for crime."

The limit was reduced from 28 to 24 weeks in 1990 to reflect medical advances. MPs voted to retain it in 2008, rejecting calls to reduce it to 22 or 20 weeks.

Maria Miller, the new Women's minister, this week said it should be lowered to 20 weeks because of the rapid advances in caring for extremely premature babies.

More than 90 per cent of abortions take place before 12 weeks, but critics said imposing that limit would effectively prevent testing for conditions such as Down's Syndrome.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists denounced the Health Secretary's comments as "insulting to women".

Kate Guthrie, a spokeswoman for the college of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "If everybody had to have abortions by 12 weeks, my worry would be that women would be rushed into making decisions: 'I have to have an abortion now or I can't have one.'

"That's an absolute shocker. You will absolutely create mental health problems if you start dragooning women into making decisions before they have to."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in