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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.’