Maria Miller urges to reduce the abortion limit from 24 to 20 weeks

The new Minister for Women and Equalities, Maria Miller

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

The new Minister for Women and Equalities, Maria MillerCulture Secretary who is also in charge of women’s issues and equalities policy, Maria Miller has urged the abortion legal limit should be reduced from 24 weeks to 20 weeks in England, Wales and Scotland.

Ms. Miller has told advances in medical science mean many very premature babies can now be saved.

The Tory MP, a mother of three, first voted for the change in 2008 when it was put forward in a backbench Bill by Tory MP, Nadine Dorries.

When she was again asked yesterday whether she still believed the cut was necessary, she replied: ‘Absolutely. You have got to look at these matters in a commonsense way. I looked at it from the really important stance of the impact on women and children.’

The Human Embryology and Human Fertilisation Act 1990 lowered the legal limit from the 28 weeks previously set under the Abortion Act 1967. Before that abortions were illegal.

According to the current U.K. abortion law, it allows women access to abortion at any time up to 24 weeks, though the majority of abortions carried out take place 3-9 weeks of pregnancy, with only 1.4 percent being carried out at over 20 weeks. These figures reflect advances in helping women access abortion quickly and safely. However, on average, there is still an average waiting time of 2-4 weeks between seeing a doctor and getting an abortion on the NHS. This waiting time can easily make the difference between a legal and an illegal abortion, and would get over the allowed time limit in case it gets reduced.

Several studies made that support the limit to be no less than 24 weeks including one published in the British Medical Journal, show that while survival rates have increased significantly for babies born at 24 and 25 weeks, they have not risen for babies born 23 weeks or less.

Very few terminations take place at this stage of pregnancy, but those in favour of keeping the limit as it is say that it is often the 20 week scan which reveals severe abnormalities.

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