Nicola Sturgeon favours current 24-week abortion limit

SNP Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon answers questions during a BBC news website interview

Scotland's Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said reducing the time limit for abortions risks sending women "to the back streets".

Her comments came after her Scottish Cabinet colleague Alex Neil was reported as saying he personally favoured a reduction in time limits.

In a BBC interview Ms Sturgeon said the move could make it less safe for women.

She also stressed there was no Scottish government or SNP plan to change the limits now or after independence.

Legislation regulating the abortion limit, currently set at 24 weeks, is a matter for the UK Parliament.

Start Quote

A vast majority of abortions take place well before 20 weeks, there's a tiny proportion between 20 and 24 weeks”

End Quote Nicola Sturgeon Deputy First Minister

Speaking during a BBC Scotland webcast interview, Ms Sturgeon said: "On a personal basis, I'm not persuaded of the case for reducing the abortion time limit.

"A vast majority of abortions take place well before 20 weeks, there's a tiny proportion between 20 and 24 weeks.

"I don't believe there is evidence that backs up a reduction in the time limit and, more importantly, I've never seen any evidence that reducing the time limit for abortion reduces abortions.

"What it does do, or what it risks doing, is sending abortions back to the back streets and making them less safe for women."

Mr Neil recently told the Scotland on Sunday newspaper the issue of abortion could potentially be looked at, should people vote for independence in the 2014 referendum.

However, he did not set out what time limit he thought was appropriate.

The UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has backed a reduction from 24 weeks to 12 weeks.

Prime Minister David Cameron insisted, however, that the government at Westminster had "no plans" to bring in new laws governing when a women could legally have an abortion.

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