Oh, Jeremy Hunt. I knew very little of him until recently, but now it turns out he’s the new Health Secretary… and he is in favour of reducing the ‘abortion time limit’ (the latest point in pregnancy at which abortion would be ‘allowed’) to just twelve weeks. I think I speak for all intelligent people with wombs when I say: that’s fucking terrifying.
But as well as being terrifying, it’s also woefully misguided. You see, reducing the limit, even slashing it in half as Hunt would like to see done, won’t reduce the number of abortions that occur at all.
There’s the obvious: the majority of pregnant people aren’t going to say “I desperately don’t want to be pregnant but abortion is illegal so I guess I’ll have a baby!” No, they’re more than likely going to go ahead and have the abortion anyway – but instead of in hospitals, they’ll be going to backstreet abortionists using unsafe and methods and tools in unhygienic environments.
But even if you ignore the fact that pregnant people will continue to have abortions illegally, what Hunt fails to realise is that current legal abortion providers will be performing almost exactly the same number of abortions in the case of a reduction in the limit as they do now.
You see, the current limit of 24 weeks isn’t really a limit at all. It’s more of a guideline. Abortions can be and are performed, right now, at gestational periods later than 24 weeks. The NHS Choices website says:
There are also a number of rarer situations when the law states an abortion may be carried out after 24 weeks. These include:
- if it is necessary to save the woman’s life
- to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman
- if there is substantial risk that if the child were born, s/he would have physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped
What Jeremy Hunt and the rest of the anti-choice brigade don’t seem to realise is that the majority of abortions – 90.1% in fact – already happen happen before 12 weeks. Those 9.9% of abortions that happen after twelve weeks? Most of those happen for the reasons outlined above. So if the limit is reduced to twelve weeks, all those abortions will still happen because they will be covered by those exceptions.
I really don’t think Jeremy Hunt is this naïve. He certainly can’t have got to the position he’s in now without doing a bit of research into things like this. So the really terrifying thing is that he knows all this – and is in favour of reducing the limit anyway. And the only reason I can think of for his position, knowing everything I’ve just pointed out, is that he wants to eliminate abortion immediately and force all pregnant people to carry their foetuses to term, and this is his way of getting there, step by step.
This isn’t “concern for babies”, it’s outright misogyny. It is fear of people with uteri making their own decisions about what to do with those uteri. If you are British and you have a uterus, you should be very, very afraid, because Jeremy Hunt and his cronies are coming for you.