Jeremy Hunt backs 12 week limit for abortions
On the eve of the Conservative party conference, Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, has told The Times that he feels the abortion limit should be halved from 24 weeks to 12 weeks.
The MP for South West Surrey claims he “reached the conclusion after studying the evidence,” and that he feels “12 weeks is the right point”. Hunt expressly denies that his Christian beliefs have any effect on his abortion stance. He does, however, class abortion as a fundamental moral issue, though he does not believe abortion should be made illegal. Hunt acknowledged “it is an incredibly difficult question about the moment we deem a life to start”.
His view has been the source of much debate. Critics of Jeremy Hunt’s plans argue that, although 91% of abortions take place before 12 weeks, a 12-week cut-off would prevent testing for conditions such as Down’s Syndrome and would rush women into making a decision, which they may later regret. A significant number of Tory MPs are questioning Hunt’s motivation for making such a controversial statement at such an important time.
Labour MP and Shadow Minister of Public Health Diane Abbott said Hunt’s comments were “shocking and alarming”. Abbott stated: “we are seeing sustained attacks on Science and the rights British women and families have fought for”.
Meanwhile, backbenchers Nadine Dorries, Mark Prichard and Daniel Kaczynski , chairman of parliament’s pro-life group, are supporting Hunt’s statements. Kaczynski said: “There are MPs of all parties who feel strongly that we need to change the limit.” Similarly, Prichard said: “Britain now executes abortions on an industrial scale. […] The high numbers are a scar on Britain’s social landscape.”
Hunt’s statement has led to 600 coat hangers being delivered to the Department of Health by pro-choice activists. Kate Banyard of UK Feminista said: “We are sending Hunt a reminder of what happens when you restrict abortion rights. It becomes illegal and unsafe.”
A Downing Street spokesman has insisted that Hunt was “expressing a purely personal opinion”.
David Cameron told the press “Jeremy Hunt is entitled to his own opinion.[…] But people need to know the government has got no plans to bring forward any legislation in this area.”