Foreign Secretary and Conservative leadership candidate, Jeremy Hunt MP, has said that he supports the reduction of the time limit for having an abortion from 24 to 12 weeks.
In an interview with Sky News’ Sophie Ridge on Sunday 9th June, the Foreign Secretary said: “These are matters of conscience, yes, my view hasn’t changed on that.”
He stressed that he “respect[s] the fact other people have very different views and that’s why these matters are matters for free votes in the House of Commons.”
When asked if he could guarantee that the time limit for abortion will stay where it is, he answered,
“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.
“But it won’t be a government policy to change the law in that respect.”
On previous abortion related votes, MPs have been allowed a free vote. This means that they are not put under pressure by party leaders to vote a certain way. If Mr Hunt were to become Prime Minister, he said:
“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.”
The abortion law in Britain, which allows abortion up until the 24th week of pregnancy and up to birth if the child is disabled, is out of line with the majority of EU countries which have a time limit for most abortions of 12-weeks or lower.
In addition to wanting to reduce the abortion time limit to 12-weeks, Jeremy Hunt has previously voted in favour of introducing an explicit ban on sex-selective abortion into the law in England and Wales.
Right To Life’s Clare McCarthy said:
“Polling shows there is strong support from women for reducing the time limit for abortion. Seven out of ten women support reducing the abortion time limit to twenty weeks or below, from the current twenty-four-week time limit.
Only 1% of the UK public would support the goal of UK abortion campaigners to introduce abortion up-to-birth.
A twelve-week time limit would bring the UK in line with the majority of EU countries that have a time limit for most abortions of 12 weeks or lower.”