February 25, 2008 / 1:56 PM / 10 years ago

Cameron calls for lower abortion time limit

LONDON (Reuters) - Conservative leader David Cameron has supported a cut in the legal time limit on abortions ahead of a possible vote on the issue in coming weeks.

<p>Conservative Party leader David Cameron is shown in this file picture. Cameron has supported a cut in the legal time limit on abortions ahead of a possible vote on the issue in coming weeks. REUTERS/David Moir</p>

But Gordon Brown’s spokesman said on Monday the prime minister, on the basis of medical advice, did not support a change in the abortion law.

MPs may table amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill calling for a reduction in the 24-week limit when the bill returns to the House of Commons.

That would give MPs the first chance to vote on abortion since 1990.

All MPs will be free to vote with their conscience although Cameron’s call could prompt colleagues to back a lower limit.

“I would like to see a reduction in the current limit, as it is clear that, due to medical advancement, many babies are surviving at 24 weeks,” Cameron said.

“If there is an opportunity ... I will be voting to bring this limit down from 24 weeks. This must, however, remain a conscience issue and a free vote,” he added.

As yet no amendments to the bill have been tabled and it is unclear what limit any amendments would propose, although 20 and 21-week limits have been mentioned by the media.

But Brown’s spokesman said the prime minister believed MPs should be guided “by the best medical advice on this.”

“At the moment, the key organisations in the medical profession are not pressing for a review in this area,” he added.

The spokesman said both the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have said they do not believe there is a case for changing the time limits for abortion and the government had no plans to do so.

A majority of MPs on the Commons’ Science and Technology Committee rejected lowering the limit in a report last year.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is currently making its way through parliament and is expected to return to the House of Commons in the coming weeks.

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