Saturday, 6 October 2012

Most members of cabinet have previously voted for lowering the abortion limit to 20 weeks or below

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) has come in for criticism today for saying that he believes the upper abortion limit should be lowered from 24 to 12 weeks.

However he is not alone. Of the 16 Conservative MPs in Cabinet, 13 actually voted for a decrease in the abortion upper limit during the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in 2008.

Of these, three, including Mr Hunt, voted for 12 weeks, two voted for 16 weeks, seven voted for 20 weeks and one, the Prime Minister David Cameron, voted for 22 weeks.

Only two, George Osborne and Theresa Villiers, supported the status quo of 24 weeks and one, Michael Gove, was not present.

Of the five Liberal Democrat MPs in cabinet, four, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, voted for the status quo and one, Vince Cable, abstained.

So overall only 6 of the 21 MPs in cabinet, less than one in three, voted for the status quo of 24 weeks.

In the last few days David Cameron, Theresa May and Maria Miller have indicated, like Jeremy Hunt, that their position on the issue in 2008 has not changed.

It seems as though this debate is still very much alive as the Conservative Party Conference begins.

Downing Street has however emphasised again today that any vote on abortion would be a matter of conscience.

I have previously outlined the case for lowering the upper limit to 20 weeks and 12 weeks respectively.

The full voting record for 2008 is as follows:

12 Weeks

Patrick McLoughlin (Transport)
Owen Paterson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Jeremy Hunt (Health)

16 Weeks

Eric Pickles (Communities and Local Government)
David Jones (Wales)

20 Weeks

William Hague (Foreign Affairs)
Maria Miller (Culture, Media and Sport)
Justine Greening (International Development)
Iain Duncan Smith (Work and Pensions)
Chris Grayling (Justice)
Philip Hammond (Defence)
Theresa May (Home Department)

22 weeks

David Cameron (Prime Minister)

24 weeks (status quo)

George Osborne (Chancellor)
Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister)
Edward Davey (Energy and Climate Change)
Michael Moore (Scotland)
Theresa Villiers (Northern Ireland)
Danny Alexander (Chief Secretary to the Treasury)

Did not vote

Vince Cable (Business, Innovation and Skills) - abstained
Michael Gove (Education) - not present


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