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Abortion limit: Tory minister for women calls for reduction to 20 weeks

Posted Oct 04 2012 4:48am

The Conservative minister for women is backing calls for a reduction in the legal limit for abortions, to reflect advances in medical technology. 

Maria Miller wants the limit to be reduced to 20 weeks as per her vote in 2008. When asked if she thought the time limit was still necessary, she told The Guardian  ‘Absolutely. You have got to look at these matters in a commonsense way. I looked at it from the really important stance of the impact on women and children’. She describes herself as ‘a very modern feminist’ and told the Daily Telegraph that ‘what we are trying to do here is not to put obstacles in people’s way but to reflect the way medical science has moved on.’ Babies born at 24 weeks can survive in neonatal units, which is the current legal limit for late abortions.

Tory MP Nadine Dorries supports her view and intends to push for a review of abortion laws later this year. She initiated the 2008 parliamentary attempt to reduce the legal limit to 20 weeks. Last year she put forward an amendment that would have meant abortion providers such as Marie Stopes could no longer provide pregnancy counselling for clients – handing it over to ‘independent’ organisations. The move was defeated but abortion is still a hot topic in parliament.

Dorries tweeted this week: ‘Maria Miller understands the importance of recognising some women are traumatised by the abortion process, that’s real feminism’.

Darinka Aleksic, campaign co-ordinator for Abortion Rights told The Guardian: ‘The fact that the minister responsible for women and equalities wants to restrict access to abortion, one of the most important women’s health services, is really alarming.

‘Her appointment, alongside Jeremy Hunt at the Department of Health, who would like to see abortion severely restricted, does nothing to inspire confidence in the government’s commitment to women’s right to choose.’

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