According to a report in the Times today (‘Jeremy Hunt backs 12 week limit for abortions’, Times, 6 October 2012), the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, supports the abortion limit to be lowered from 24 to 12 weeks.
Lowering the time limit will not result in a lower abortion rate. Women who are desperate to have an abortion will look for the means to have one, and this includes seeking access to an illegal and unsafe abortion. This would be a huge backward step for women putting them at serious risk of psychological and physical complications, reminiscent of the situation prior to the passage of the Abortion Act of 1967.
In the article, he says these are his personal views and the Government has no plans to change the law.
Dr Kate Guthrie, RCOG spokesperson, said:
“The comments made by Jeremy Hunt politicise the debate around the abortion time limit and do not put women at the centre of their care.
“Reducing the time limit to 12 weeks would severely limit women’s choice at an extremely difficult time in their life.
“At the moment, access to services is sometimes delayed, making it harder for women to get the care they need.
“If the intention is to reduce the abortion rate, then health services should invest in the provision of comprehensive contraceptive services that improve access and provide women with a range of options.”
There are many reasons why some women have abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. These include an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy that was only picked up at a later gestation, late referral to abortion services, or a scan showing fetal abnormality. It is important to note that some medical conditions are only picked up later in pregnancy. There are also social reasons that impact on a woman’s decision and these include changes to her personal and/or financial circumstances.
Saturday 6 October 2012