Abortion: Call To Lower Limit To 20 Weeks

Abortion: Call To Lower Limit To 20 Weeks

The legal abortion limit should be lowered to 20 weeks because of dramatic scientific advances, according to the new Women's Minister.

Maria Miller has said it would be "common sense" to lower the limit from the current 24 weeks because care for extremely premature babies has improved so rapidly.

Doctors can now save the lives of children born within six months of conception in some cases.

This sparks a moral dilemma over whether it is right to terminate a pregnancy that could result in a healthy child or to deny women the right to make a choice.

"You have got to look at these matters in a very common sense way," Mrs Miller told The Daily Telegraph. "I looked at it from the really important stance of the impact on women and children.

"What we are trying to do here is not to put obstacles in people's way but to reflect the way medical science has moved on."

Her comments have come after figures revealed that England and Wales has the highest rate of abortions among women aged under 20 in Europe.

There are 22 terminations per 1,000 women aged between 15-19, according to the study by the Guttmacher Institute in New York.

Mrs Miller was appointed Culture Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities in David Cameron's cabinet reshuffle last month.

In 2008, she voted in the Commons to reduce the legal limit for abortion to 20 weeks. She insisted she would "absolutely" do the same a second time.

She insisted her decision to was not a snub to women's rights, describing herself as a "very modern feminist" who is "riven by that very practical impact that late-term abortion has on women".

Between 1% and 2% of abortions in Britain take place after 20 weeks, the equivalent of 3,000 terminations per year, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Abortions after 24 weeks are permitted in rare circumstances where there is evidence of severe deformity in the baby or the mother's health is at serious risk.