October 10, 2012 — U.K. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Saturday voiced support for banning abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy, while current law allows women to access abortion until 24 weeks, the AP/Washington Post reports.
In an interview with the Times of London, Hunt said that after studying unspecified evidence he concluded that 12 weeks was "the right point" to set a ban on abortion. Abortion is legal in England, Scotland and Wales until 24 weeks of pregnancy. About 91% of abortions in 2011 occurred before 13 weeks, while 2% occurred after 20 weeks, according to the National Health Service.
Other Conservative Party members in Prime Minister David Cameron's cabinet also have called for restricting abortion earlier in pregnancy, possibly beginning at 20 weeks (AP/Washington Post, 10/6).
Cameron said that the government has "no plans" to introduce new abortion legislation (Donaldson, Bloomberg Businessweek, 10/7). However, he said he favors a more "modest" reduction than what Hunt proposed.
Abortion-rights advocates called Hunt's comments "insulting to women." They support the current 24-week limit because some health problems are not detectable until later in pregnancy. Other women might not realize they are pregnant or have access to abortion care until after 12 weeks, they noted (AP/Washington Post, 10/6).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership