The Socialist 10 October 2012
Tories promise more pain ... Kick out the 'nasty party'!
Politicians line up to attack abortion rights
Defend and extend the right to choose
Many women will have felt chilled at Jeremy Hunt's comments that he would back the time limit on abortions being halved from 24 to just 12 weeks.
Coming from any politician these comments would be worrying, but as an article in the Mirror points out: "Although the health secretary was expressing a personal view, it carries extra weight because his job puts him in charge of abortion services."
If Hunt's comment was an isolated attack it would be bad enough. However, a momentum is again growing within the ranks of the Tories to push back the right of women to decide when and whether to have children.
Maria Miller, the minister for women, who describes herself as a "very modern feminist" had already thrown her views into the ring, arguing the time limit should be reduced to 20 weeks.
This is the woman whose parliamentary record includes voting to deny lesbians fertility treatment. Her previous role saw her closing Remploy factories, destroying thousands of lives.
Nadine Dorries, who waged a high profile anti-choice campaign , '20 reasons for 20 weeks', entered the furore by tweeting: "Maria Miller understands the importance of recognising some women are traumatised by the abortion process, that's real feminism". Dorries is on record as saying her personal preference would be 13 weeks.
Over the weekend David Cameron and home secretary Theresa May stated they favoured a reduction to 20 weeks.
Maria Miller has claimed her views for a limit of 20 weeks are science-based, citing that babies born at 20 weeks are surviving.
However, figures show that only 1% of babies born at 22 weeks gestation survive, and many who do suffer serious disabilities.
In England and Wales the vast majority of abortions take place before ten weeks. However, it is crucial to defend 24 weeks, as many women who seek late abortions are in extremely vulnerable situations, including very young women, who often don't recognise the symptoms and women who are menopausal with irregular periods. Also, some medical conditions cannot be detected before 21 weeks gestation.
Women from many backgrounds, but particularly working class women, understand that safe, free and legal abortion is a life and death issue. Tory cuts in abortion rights would lead to potentially fatal backstreet alternatives.
The Socialist Party will fight to ensure any attempt by Tory politicians to introduce legislation to reduce the time limit to 20 weeks, never mind 12, will be met by mass opposition.
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