By Greg Heffer, political reporter
Conservative leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt has been accused of "attacking women's rights" after reiterating his view that the legal limit for abortion should be reduced from 24 weeks to 12 weeks.
The foreign secretary told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday that his "view hasn't changed" on the matter, but stressed he would not push to halve the legal limit should he become prime minister.
Mr Hunt said: "My view hasn't changed on that and I respect the fact that other people have very different views.
"That's why these matters are always matters for free votes in the House of Commons and when they come up people vote with their conscience."
Asked if he could guarantee the legal limit would stay at 24 weeks if he succeeded Theresa May in 10 Downing Street, Mr Hunt replied: "What I can guarantee is it will be a matter for the House of Commons, not a matter for government policy.
"The prime minister will have his view just like every other one of the 650 MPs and these will be decided as a matter of conscience.
"But it won't be government policy to change the law in that respect."
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He added: "It won't be government policy to have a vote, if backbenchers choose to have a vote then we'd have a free vote and everyone will vote with their conscience."
Mr Hunt's comments were criticised by Labour MP Jess Phillips, who posted on Twitter: "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."
Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine branded Mr Hunt's views as "incredibly alarming", adding: "Rather than attacking the women's rights we already have in some parts of the UK, the Tories should be fighting for them to be equal in Northern Ireland.
"So far the Tory leadership race has shown how out of touch many of those putting themselves forward are."
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, a charity that supports and campaigns for reproductive rights, posted a series of tweets in response to Mr Hunt's remarks.
It said: "So it might help to clarify that when you believe the abortion time limit should be 12 weeks (a la Hunt) you effectively believe that very young women, who may be more likely to have hidden their pregnancy or taken time to confide in someone about their situation, should become motheRead More – Source