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09th Jun 2019

Jeremy Hunt says legal abortion limit should be cut from 24 weeks to 12

James Dawson

“These are matters of conscience”

Jeremy Hunt has said that the legal time limit for abortions should be halved from 24 weeks to 12.

The foreign secretary is one of the eleven Tory candidates in the running to replace Theresa May as leader of the Conservative party. The comments came as he was quizzed on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, about previous comments he had made on the issue.

“These are matters of conscience, yes, my view hasn’t changed on that,” he said.”I respect the fact other people have very different views and that’s why these matters are matters for free votes in the House of Commons.”

Although he added that he would not seek to change the law if he becomes prime minister. “It won’t be Government policy to change the law,” he said.

The Labour MP Jess Phillips responded on Twitter, saying: “Did this one say he was a feminist?

“It’s hard to keep up with who’s on drugs and who pretends to care about women. Jeremy Hunt, how about we base this stuff on evidence and science and keep what you think is best based on no experience out of this?”

While Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said: “It is incredibly alarming to see the former health secretary and a candidate in the race to be the next prime minister hold such a view. Rather than attacking women’s rights we already have in some parts of the UK, the Tories should be fighting for them to be equal in Northern Ireland.”

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, campaigning charity for reproductive rights, also responded to the remarks via Twitter.

A spokesperson for the chaity said: “So it might help to clarify that when you believe the abortion time limit should be 12 weeks (a la Hunt) you effectively believe that very young women, who may be more likely to have hidden their pregnancy or taken time to confide in someone about their situation, should become mothers against their will.

“Women using some of the most effective hormonal methods which affect bleeding patterns and so delay detection should be forced to continue a pregnancy they had assiduously been trying to avoid.

“That you are okay with the fact that victims of domestic violence for whom abuse escalates in pregnancy will find it even harder to escape a violent partner.

“That you don’t really care that people’s circumstances can change unimaginably overnight – job losses, illnesses of existing children, evictions, making a planned pregnancy no longer possible.

“That you don’t think women should be able to make their own decisions following a diagnosis of foetal anomaly, some of which won’t be detected until at least 20 weeks.

“And actually just that. That you don’t think women should be trusted to make their own decisions about their own bodies and what is best for themselves and their families. But we do.”