UK minister backs 12-week abortion limit

2012-10-06 22:33

London - Britain's new health secretary has said he favours reducing the limit for women to have abortions from 24 weeks of pregnancy to 12, sparking criticism from opposition lawmakers and women's rights activists.

Jeremy Hunt, who took up the job just a few weeks ago, said he believed that 12 weeks was "the right point", telling the Times newspaper in an interview published on Saturday: "It is just my view about that incredibly difficult question about the moment that we should deem life to start."

The comments followed recent remarks from Culture Secretary Maria Miller - also the minister for women - who said she would like to see the law tightened so that the limit comes down to 20 weeks.

The Prime Minister's office at Downing Street stressed that Hunt was expressing purely personal views, and that the government has no plans to change laws on abortion.

But his remarks, coming just ahead of the annual Conservative Party conference, immediately stirred up political debate and anger from pro-choice campaigners. Abortion is a divisive political issue in Britain, though not as much so as in the US, where it has flared up in the presidential campaign despite the candidates' reluctance to dwell on the topic.

Health problems in foetus

The 24-week limit applies to England, Wales and Scotland. Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland except when the mother's life is in danger or there is a serious threat to her health.

Department of Health figures show that the vast majority of abortions last year were carried out at under 13 weeks. Critics of Hunt's position argue that the current 24-week limit should be kept because severe health problems such as Down syndrome are often not revealed in testing until later in the pregnancy.

They say the remarks show that Hunt does not have a full understanding of why women need late abortion services.

"I think women and families across the country will find it staggering that the priority for this government is playing politics with people's lives, like this," said Diane Abbott, the health spokesperson for the opposition Labour Party.

"Late abortion only affects a small number of women, who are often in extremely challenging circumstances."

Prime Minister David Cameron said that he did not agree with Hunt's position, and instead personally favoured a more "modest" reduction in the legal limit. Home Secretary Theresa May expressed similar views on Saturday, telling the BBC in an interview that "there is scope for some reduction".

"My own view is probably a reduction to 20 weeks. That is a personal view of mine," May said.

  • Shirley Van Heerden - 2012-10-06 23:02

    Abortions should only be for medical reasons and rape and incest - gross foetal abnormalities and maternal health. Why should innocent babies pay for other persons stupidity? Family planning is available everywhere. Do the law makers have any idea what abortions do to the health care workers? We are in the life saving business, not there to kill innocent kiddies.

      maretha.mineur - 2012-10-06 23:39

      How is a baby created by rape or incest less innocent that any other baby? You have to choose, Shirley, either any reason for abortion is good enough or no reason is. The prospective mother shold have the sole right to decide, end of story.

      adri.noble - 2012-10-07 01:21

      I agree Martha the mother must decide. Shirley stop acting like a virgin with no sins. People should decide for themselves.

      zaatheist - 2012-10-07 04:23

      Shirley A blastocyst is not a baby and what makes you an experts on what health care workers think or not? Citation please or you just made it up. If you’re a human and kill babies, you’re a monster. But if you’re a kind, loving, just god, then sometimes it is just the right thing to do. Perhaps pro-life protesters should start protesting their god, since he’s the one who: 1. Kills 1/4 of all potential humans through natural miscarriages 2. Doesn’t stop or persuade women from having abortions 3. Lets thousands of children die each day of starvation, 4. Lets millions of children be physically abused by their family, and 5. Slaughtered innocent children numerous times in the Bible. half of all conceptions end in a spontaneous abortion, and about 15% of all pregnancies where the mother knows she is pregnant spontaneously terminate.

      zaatheist - 2012-10-07 04:25

      William F. Harrison tells "Why I provide abortions." I provide abortions for my patients and for any other girl or woman who feels this her best option... By 1967 I was a third year medical student... and I was ending my rotation in the Ob-Gyn Service clinic. I was assigned a 40-plus-year-old, poverty-stricken mother of several children... This care-worn mother-of-several had a large abdominal mass that I rapidly determined to be a well advanced pregnancy. I asked my resident to come and break the news to this woman; it was very obvious to me that she was not going to be happy about the news of another pregnancy. When told that she - already unable to adequately feed and clothe her family - was again pregnant, she looked up at me and the resident. There we stood, two white males, well clothed, well fed young men with superior educations. We were, in her eyes, stunningly blessed and obviously going places in the world. She began to weep silently. She must have assumed, for good reason, that there was no way that we would understand her problems; she knew also that there was nothing that we could or would do to relieve her lacerating misery. "Oh God, doctor," she said quietly, "I was hoping it was cancer."

      hermann.bohmer - 2012-10-07 09:25

      Maretha,Adri, A very high % of mothers chose to have the interaction to have the possibility of resulting in a fetus, rather stop that... Zaatheist... Shame man, your have a funny guy, U dont believe/reject a belief in a God, yet accuse God of murder... Dont you see the irrationality of that...

  • martinus.vanschalkwyk - 2012-10-06 23:36

    What makes an unborn person have less rights just because they are not born yet??? All these ridiculous human rights and they refuse the most simple of all!! The right to life, regardless. If uninterrupted that baby would continue to grow and become an older person. The way this world is going just sickens me. Someone can get rid of another person because its inconvenient or because its dependent on her (her body argument)...can I get a hitman for my wife/husband because they're dependent too? Or knock off my neighbour cause they're an inconvenience?

      zaatheist - 2012-10-07 04:20

      matinus Answer me these - Your eleven year old daughter was raped by a serial rapist and she became pregnant Would you support your daughter having an abortion? Your wife was raped by an AID’s infected man and she became pregnant. Would you support your wife having an abortion? Your wife is pregnant with a foetus that tests show will be born without a brain. Would you support your wife having an abortion? Your wife is in danger of losing her life if her foetus is carried to term. The doctor says unless an abortion is performed she will die. Would you support your wife having an abortion? Many so-called pro-lifers say they support exemptions for rape, incest, and if the life of the mother is at stake. However, these exceptions are antithetical to the pro-life view. If life begins the moment the egg and sperm unite, then any abortion is the killing of a human life. It is inconsistent and hypocritical to call yourself pro-life and then turn right around and say, in some circumstances it is permissible to kill the foetus.

      MaNkehli Tshabalala - 2012-10-07 04:29

      Well said Marthinus! Couldn't agree with you more!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-07 07:17

      Marthinus, As most of these comments come from ones who live in Africa, let's rather look at the reality, than at dreams !! ""The right to life"", Does this also mean 'a right to starvation' ?? Africa is a continent where EVERY YEAR, MILLIONS die of starvation, so to be pro-life is to my mind , criminal !!! !! And to the ones, who say,'than she should not have become pregnant' ; Go and direct your anger and frustrations, to the REAL CRIMINALS; The Roman Catholic Church, cause THEY are the real reason there are MILLIONS of unwanted pregnancies!!! To have in 2012, in Africa, with one billion people, which half cannot sustain themselves, a MONSTER institution, telling youngsters, NOT to wear a condom during sex, and NOT to have any other methode to prevent pregnancies, is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. This pope THUG, should long ago , have been arrested, and put on trial!!

      matthew.patrick.925 - 2012-10-07 07:30

      Well put, Anthony!

      hermann.bohmer - 2012-10-07 09:21

      zaatheist, your examples are the extreme cases where abortion couldbe justified Show me the % of abortions of your examples out of the total % abortion done... it might shock you...

      martinus.vanschalkwyk - 2012-10-07 11:07

      ZAathiest, well your name says it all, you've chosen your standpoint as I have mine. First off, 11 is too young to become pregnant, with the exception of those exceptionally few late bloomers of which my family are not part. Baby born without a brain? Well, that child would naturally miscarry, I don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that - what about down-syndrome, they abort those kids yet I know a guy with this...he enjoys his life yet someone like you would not have wanted him born. As for 'her life being at stake', I have a cousin with a blood disorder (causes thrombosis') who has that very same problem. She fell pregnant twice, accidentally, and the doctors kept telling her to abort, but neither her nor her husband could live with that choice even though it put her in danger. Guess what? The doctors were wrong on both counts and she gave birth to health babies without herself suffering. I'm an all or nothing kind of guy, so I don't support abortion at all, on any grounds. Human beings are sick in general, why should a unborn child suffer because of consequences out of his/her control? And rape is a reality in Africa and SA especially, I support a deterrent instead of just dealing with the aftermath - castration!! That would stop this sick bastards in their tracks.

  • tabisa.ndamase.7 - 2012-10-06 23:51

    Everyone has a right to life even an unborn child. God has a plan for every human being so an abortion can only be done if a person was raped or has medical conditions that force her to do abortion. Ladies let's not violate a right to life of our unborn kids...

      georg.laing - 2012-10-07 00:40

      I do understand why women who were raped would want to abort. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it must be to bear a child conceived under such circumstances. But let me try to explain by analogy why aborting a child conceived in rape would still be wrong. If a man rapes and kills my mother, am I justified in raping and killing his mother? Or perhaps more in line with this scenario, am I justified in picking any man off the street who had absolutely nothing to do with what happened to my mother and killing him? From your post it seems you would agree that unborn life is still human life, and every human has a right to life. So why take away the right of an innocent human life?

      zaatheist - 2012-10-07 04:17

      Sorry to break this to you. tabisa, but you god does not exist and there is no plan. And even if you believe in this god then he is not against abortion. All Christians should be pro-choice. The Bible is pretty specific about this. It says punishment should be an eye for an eye, life for life, etc., and in the same passage it says that if a man hits a pregnant woman and causes her to miscarry, he only has to pay fine (to the woman's husband). Because he doesn't have to pay with his life, he clearly did not take a life. Abortion is not murder. The Bible says so. Forced abortion is wrong (not as bad as murder), but the Bible says nothing at all about voluntary abortion. Of course, since when do Christians actually listen to what the Bible says?

      hermann.bohmer - 2012-10-07 09:36

      zaatheist, thaks for your view...

  • georg.laing - 2012-10-07 00:24

    Not an argument, just an outcry of disgust: children with Down Syndrome don't have a right to life?!?!

  • james.price.545849 - 2012-10-07 00:51

    Abortion is murder!!

      adri.noble - 2012-10-07 01:14

      En jy is n engel.

      zaatheist - 2012-10-07 04:15

      No it is not and if you really think so then don' have one. No one is forcing you to. Anyway, in South Africa it is perfectly legal (thank god, haha) so sorry for you.

      zaatheist - 2012-10-07 04:40

      This is murder - God killing 42 kids with bears for insulting Elisha (2 Kings 2:23-24) God threatens to slaughter children because the adults are rebels (Hosea 9:11-16) God orders the murders of women and children (Ezekiel 9:5-7) if u dont obey God will kill your children (Leviticus 26:21-22) God orders rapes and baby killing (Isaiah 13:15-18) God orders Moses to kill? every non virgin woman, but keep virgins (Numbers 31:15-18) God will rip up pregnant women (Hosea 13:16) And people who believe in this god have the cheek to claim they and there god are Pro-Life?

      hermann.bohmer - 2012-10-07 09:16

      zaatheist wrong on all accounts... geeh, the weekend as been bad for you...

      jon.jones.90663894 - 2012-11-14 11:29

      Murder is the killing of a innocent human being. Unborn babies are human and they are innocent. Abortion is murder. QED.

  • zaatheist - 2012-10-07 04:13

    How this nasty piece of work can be a cabinet minster defeat me, le alone Minister of Health. This poephol actually believes homeopathy works. Just another brain addled god fearing Christian hypocrite (who immorally fiddled his expense claims) trying to impose his creepy views on the rest of society.

      jon.jones.90663894 - 2012-11-14 11:26

      zaatheist -- he is openly gay and not a Christian.

  • J.Stephen.Whiteley - 2012-10-07 06:13

    "When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." John VIII, 10-11

  • matthew.patrick.925 - 2012-10-07 07:43

    A mother has to make countless, difficult choices on how to responsibly raise her children, while having to choose between the lesser of 2 evils most of the time. Shouldn't prospective mothers also have the right to decide if their unborn children lives? Unless you have lived through the exact situation and are faced with the decision it's best to reserve judgment.

  • Michael - 2012-10-07 08:06

    Babies should be aborted up until 8 and a half months. If the mother cannot support said offspring, abortion should be made compulsory (up until 3 weeks after birth)

  • dustin.mccrindle.5 - 2012-10-07 08:19

    My prevoius employer

  • Shaun McDermott - 2012-10-07 08:39

    i see that religious Troll ZAathiest is about. sorry pal to remind you athiesm is a religion and also you dont find any athiests when you having a crisis. you cry to the god you dont believe in ......why????? Troll troll. you must have been abused by your parents at some point thats why you are a troll

  • mc.segal.5 - 2012-10-07 08:43

    A better program of preventing pregnancy would stop a lot of hoo ha on the subject.

  • gail.hayesbean - 2012-10-07 08:58

    The largest problem facing our planet is overpopulation and dwindling resources and changing climatic conditions. WE can change the outcome of the first two as women and society. Let's leave religion out of this argument and be objective about this. Parents of a child are the only ones who have a right to decide whether a potential human life should be allowed to come to pass or not. That said it is important that there also be laws to prevent people from aborting their conceived child beyond a certain point and ultimately the mother should be the one who makes that decision knowing full well what she is doing. Personally I am glad that our country now allows abortion as a choice but equally glad that at the time I was pregnant with my unplanned second child that it wasn't. Men should not in my opinion have a say in this matter because it is men who refuse to take no for an answer even in marriage who cause unwanted pregnancies. Each woman is different even although she has potentially the ability to give birth. I for example knew my body so well that I knew within 24 hours that I had conceived. There are many women who will never have that finely tuned ability and especially very young women who are the most likely to be faced with boyfriends and men with raging hormones and forceful personalities who find themselves pregnant due to ignorance of their own bodies. In these cases the pregnancy may only be discovered at 20 weeks. A parents consent is NB for termination.. TBC

      theodor.herzl.3 - 2012-10-07 11:54

      Leaving God out of His creation is not possible. Repentance from sin is.

  • gail.hayesbean - 2012-10-07 09:16

    Part 2: If your daughter is 13y.o. her life could well be in danger carrying that child full term. Equally the life of the unplanned child will be at risk because the mother is uneducated and ill-prepared to take on the responsibility for that child without the guidance and financial aid of family and society in general. Thus the 24 week abortion law in our country. Personally I believe that the abortion should be performed as early as possible but I am lucky enough to be well educated and have been highly attuned to my bodies day to day functioning. I fell pregnant before my 3rd child was 6 weeks old and I demanded that my husband accompany me to my doctor when I realised it and we faced him as a united couple who DID NOT WANT another child. He ascertained through a blood te4st that I was in fact pregnant as the usual test did not register and agreed reluctantly to perform a D & C. It was still illegal at that point and I will respect and love that Doctor all my life. I have had no regrets about what I did as my husband died in a tragic accident 14 years later and I was left with only one child to finish educating and raising on my own with very little means to do so as my late husband did not believe in life insurance. 12 weeks seems reasonable to me and even earlier if you realise it as I did on both occasions. I do not believe God punished me because I believe in a God of love who answers my needs when HE feels they need an answer that will be best for all concerned.

  • theodor.herzl.3 - 2012-10-07 11:51

    a Wicked generation is this, taking a life at will. One day you will stand before the living Judge of heavens throne, to account for your actions.

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