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Health secretary under fire over abortion comments

Newly appointed health secretary, Jeremy Hunt has come under fire this weekend after backing a reduction in the legal time limit for women to have abortions, from 24 to 12 weeks.

In an interview with the Times, the health secretary was asked when he believed life began and replied: ‘Everyone looks at the evidence and comes to a view about when they think that moment is and my view is that 12 weeks is the right point for it.’

He emphasised that his views were grounded on his examination of the medical literature and not on religious beliefs.

Hunt’s comments, which came on the eve of the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham this week, have been heavily criticised from all sides, with Prime Minister David Cameron forced to distance himself from his health secretary’s personal views, and stress that the government currently had no plans to alter the legislation surrounding abortion.

The interview came after Mr Hunt received criticism when appointed to the role because of his decision to vote for the abortion time limit to be reduced in 2008.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘This was a free vote on a difficult ethical issue. The way the Secretary of State voted is a matter of public record, but the law and the Government’s policy on this are clear.’

Readers' comments (5)

  • Tom Caldwell

    Perhaps before he enacts revalidation upon Drs he should look first at his own abilities to hold high office. If he has looked at the evidence he has not understood it, if he has understood it he is not telling the truth.... neither option is a good advert for him as a health minister.

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  • Vinci Ho

    His opinion is his opinion and it does not represent the government . Mmmmm , what a wonderful job to be a secretary of the state

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  • Nhsfatcat

    '...his views were grounded on his examination of the medical literature and not on religious beliefs.'
    My view is based on 20 years of helping patients and their partners who present requesting termination of pregnancy. He is not trying to apply medical literature to the real world, we are! It's about time he represented a view of the Department of Health and not his own, he is a public servant not an opinion maker,

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  • Surely as Secretary of State for Health any statement he makes on health matters should reflect the view of Government, after all we are constantly told that Government Ministers have corporate collective responsibility in the decisions made. When Parliament chooses to have a free vote following a debate it is conceivable that even ministers could vote according to their conscience but shouldn't they resign their ministerial post first before voting against the collective view particularly one for which they are accountable?
    Perhaps he neither understands his responsibility as a minister nor the medical evidence, not a particularly endearing position, and worrying for the future of the NHS.

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  • Hunt says this because he believes he can get away with saying it. That is Nasty Party policy. What he cannot do is make it policy and that is because of the power of public opinion.
    However as you can see where the Nasties can get away with making greater inequalities in society they will do it.
    I did't bvote for this lot but many Dr's did and regret it now ?

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