AMBER Rudd is backing Jeremy Hunt to be Prime Minister ‘despite his view on terminations‘. The assumption in the Mirror’s subdeck is clearly that Hunt, who would prefer a 12-week limit on abortions, is a beyond-the-pale-extremist on the issue, while the views of Rudd are mainstream and respectable.
Sky’s Sophy Ridge programme clearly felt that Hunt’s opinion was so unacceptable that he should be grilled on it ahead of other, more relevant policy issues.
— Christine Jardine MP (@cajardineMP) June 9, 2019
Christine Jardine MP went so far as to say that ‘It is incredibly alarming’ that a leadership candidate could hold such a view. Jess Phillips MP felt it necessary to tweet that one could want to reduce time limits if they only ‘pretend’ to care about women.
Did this one say he was a feminist, it's hard to keep up with whose on drugs and who pretends to care about women. Jeremy Hunt how about we base this stuff on evidence and science and keep what you think is best based on no experience out of this. https://t.co/QJMLOkFYLW
— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) June 9, 2019
In fact, Hunt’s view is closer to that of the average woman in the UK than that of Amber Rudd by some margin. Once again, the accepted view in the Westminster bubble is quite a distance from the voter.
In saying that he would prefer a 12-week time limit, Hunt is in line with the law in most European countries. Nations with a limit between 11-14 weeks include France, Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Belgium, Greece, Italy and Spain, while Sweden has an 18-week limit, six weeks lower than the 24-week limit in the UK.
And what does the UK general population think? Public opinion is behind a reduction, with women generally favouring lower limits than men. When asked by ComRes in 2017, 70 per cent of UK women said that they want a time limit of 20 weeks or below, with 59 per cent preferring a limit of 16 weeks or below. When asked by a YouGov poll commissioned by Lancaster University when human life begins, 80 per cent of UK women said at ‘some time before birth’ with 53 per cent believing that ‘life begins at conception’. Across recent polls, women are more in favour of restrictions around abortion access than men.
So, what about the reforms that Rudd and others are pushing for that would raise the time limit to a minimum of 28 weeks (and possibly up to birth)? When polled, only 2 per cent of women would like the time limit extended beyond the current 24 weeks.
It has become normal to hound anybody in public life who is in favour of greater restrictions, despite such a view being mainstream out in the country. On the flip side, when was the last time an MP was grilled about his or her view that there should be an extension of the time limit potentially up to birth? I can’t recall one.