So Jeremy Hunt has told The Times that in his personal opinion the legal limit for terminations should be halved to 12 weeks from 24. This is The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health
“I’m not someone who thinks that abortion should be made illegal. Everyone looks at the evidence and comes to a view about when that moment is and my own view is that 12 weeks is the right point for it.”
I don’t want to get into a debate about abortion. No woman wants an abortion but sometimes individuals decide for perfectly valid personal or health reasons that a termination is the right decision for them. I entirely respect that decision. If pushed I would agree with Maria Miller, the Women’s Minister, that there are strong arguments for a reduction in the limit to 20 weeks . As a Libertarian but also a
seriously lapsed Catholic I find the abortion debate difficult; my religious views in no way influence me, I am decidedly pro choice and as a Libertarian I can sympathise to a certain degree with the view that there should be no legal limit for the state should not dictate a woman’s decision at any point (although this would just be awful in reality).
However, my views do not matter. I am not the Secretary of State for Health.
Hunt has either been incredibly silly or this is a sinister sign of things to come.
If he was not the Health Minister then his personal views would not be such a problem but for a Cabinet Minister to openly state that he disagrees so radically from his own Government’s policy is rather unwise, to be kind, or ridiculously stupid, to be less so.
Senior Conservatives have been keen to stress that Hunt’s remarks are his personal opinion rather than Party policy but if, however, this is a hint of what is to come from a Hunt ruled Health Department then hard fought women’s rights will go back decades. A reduction of this scale was in neither the Tory nor Lib Dem manifesto, no one has voted for it and it is a prime example of the worst sort of social conservatism.
Jeremy Hunt is not unknown for gaffes and I truly hope this was another. Abortion is an emotive issue with strong feelings on both sides but to half the legal limit with no mandate to do so would be a huge leap back.