Women's rights compaigners condemned Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt today as an "absolute disgrace" after he claimed that there was "evidence" for banning abortion after the first 12 weeks.
Mr Hunt told the Times that the abortion time limit was "an incredibly difficult question" and suggested people would draw the line in different places.
Abortion Rights campaign co-ordinator Darinka Aleksic was scathing.
"If Jeremy Hunt had actually studied the evidence, as he claims, he would know that there is no scientific basis for reducing the abortion time limit."
The British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all support the current 24-week limit, she said.
Mr Hunt isn't known for his scientific rigour, having previously defended spending public money on homeopathic remedies.
In 2008 the British Medical Journal published a nine-year University of Leicester study of premature survival rates across 16 hospitals.
Fewer than one in five survived birth at 23 weeks and none at 22 weeks.
"Right now, groups opposed to abortion are picketing clinics around the country with the aim of deterring women from having abortions, while in Northern Ireland abortion remains virtually illegal and women can face life imprisonment for trying to obtain one," Ms Aleksic said.
National Assembly of Women secretary Anita Wright said Mr Hunt had learned from the mistakes of backbencher Nadine Dorries's 2008 abortion Bill.
Mr Hunt had backed the Bill but it was "roundly defeated" and his colleagues were now trying to ramp up pressure from religious fundamentalist groups outside Parliament to push the issue.
"He's giving the green light to these groups to continue their damaging and misleading attacks," she said.
Mr Hunt's comments came days after Women and Equalities Minister Maria Miller suggested it was "common sense" to cut the limit to 20 weeks.
But Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday there would be no government legislation and any private member's Bill would be a conscience vote.
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