Equalities Minister Urges Rethink on Abortion Limit

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Byline: Daniel Martin Whitehall Correspondent

EQUALITIES minister Maria Miller said yesterday that the abortion limit should be set according to 'people's views' - rather than according to science.

Mrs Miller, who voted in 2008 for a cut in the upper limit from 24 weeks to 20, said she believed a reduction would encourage doctors to do more to save the lives of premature babies.

Her comments put her at odds with health minister Anna Soubry, who recently said there was no scientific evidence at all for the limit to be reduced.

Last night campaigners condemned Mrs Miller's comments as 'bizarre and offensive' to both mothers and doctors.

Many pro-life campaigners call for a reduction in the upper limit because they say medical advances mean some babies born before 24 weeks can be saved.

But scientists say there has been very little change over the past few years in the chance premature babies have of surviving and there is therefore no reason to reduce the limit. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to see the abortion limit halved to only 12 weeks.

But both he and Culture Secretary Mrs Miller say there are no Government plans to call a vote on the controversial issue.

Speaking on Radio 4's Woman's Hour yesterday, Mrs Miller said: 'I want to make sure that the law keeps pace with people's views on this issue. …