Jeremy Hunt’s comments that he would like to see the abortion time limit reduced from 24 weeks to 12 have received push-back from pro-choice campaigners who say the suggestion is ‘a poor way to show leadership’.
The Conservative leadership hopeful reiterated his longstanding views on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
“I respect the fact that other people have very different views,” he said on Sunday, adding that it wouldn’t be government policy to change the law or to bring a vote on the matter.
He said that it would be for the House of Commons to decide “if backbenchers choose to have a vote then we’d have a free vote”.
Reacting to the comments the chair of the national pro-choice campaign group Abortion Rights Kerry Abel said: “Abortion care is not an issue to play politics with.
“Dramatically restricting abortions by slashing the time limit is a poor way to show leadership.”
“The comments politicise the debate around the abortion time limit and do not put women at the center of their care,” added a statement from the organisation.
“Reducing the time limit to 12 weeks would severely limit women’s choice at an extremely difficult time in their life … If the intention is to reduce the abortion rate, then health services should invest in the provision of comprehensive contraceptive services that improve access and provide women with a range of options.”
Hunt’s views on abortion have remained unchanged for over a decade, during which both his votes and public statements have stood for dramatically limiting the time frame around women’s access to abortion.
In a vote proposed by MP Nadine Dorries in 2008, where reductions in the time limit were proposed in various options up to 22 weeks, he voted to reduce it to the lowest time proposed, 12 weeks.
He then reiterated his stance on taking up the post of health secretary in 2012, to which Abortion Rights spokesperson replied: “If Jeremy Hunt had actually studied the evidence as he claims, he would know that there is no scientific basis for reducing the abortion time limit.
“The main UK medical bodies all support the current 24 week limit.”
In the interview with Sophy Ridge, Hunt also suggested Angela Merkel was ready to renegotiate the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with a new prime minister.
READ: Merkel said EU ready to negotiate Brexit deal with new PM, Hunt claimsThe wide-ranging discussion also covered his meetings with Donald Trump, in which he claimed to have argued that the NHS could not be part of any post-Brexit trade deal with the USA.