New equalities minister says abortion limit should be lowered

Maria Miller, the new Minister for Women and Equalities, has said the abortion limit should be lowered from 24 weeks to 20.

Mrs Miller thinks the law should “reflect the way medical science has moved on.”

Premature baby care advances mean some children are surviving outside the womb before 24 weeks, the legal limit for abortion.


Most countries in the EU – 16 out of 27 – have a legal limit of 12 weeks or less.

Mrs Miller voted to lower the limit to 20 weeks in 2008. She said she would “absolutely” vote the same way again.

The Tory Minister made the comments in an interview for The Daily Telegraph.

She said “You have got to look at these matters in a very common sense way.”


She added that she’s “driven by that very practical impact that late term abortion has on women.”

The comments came as figures just released show England and Wales has the highest rate of abortions among women aged under 20 in Europe (22 abortions per 1000 teenagers).


Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said babies surviving below 24 weeks, 4D ultrasound and fetal sentience have changed public opinion on the abortion limit.

He said: “Which of us, honestly, can imagine telling the mother who feels her baby kick at 20 weeks that it is not a sentient being?”

He also points out that more than three-quarters of women want a reduction in the 24 week upper age limit.


But he says if the change Mrs Miller supports comes in, only 2,000 babies (1% of the total number of abortions) will be protected.

Pro-abortion campaigners have criticised the minister’s remarks.

Darinka Aleksic, of Abortion Rights, accused Mrs Miller of trying to restrict access to abortion, calling it “really alarming.”


Campaigners are also concerned because the new Health Minister Jeremy Hunt voted in favour of halving the abortion limit to 12 weeks in 2008.

Last year, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries launched an unsuccessful bid to tighten abortion laws.

She is “delighted” Maria Miller has made her views clear, describing her as “very brave” to speak out on the issue of abortion.

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