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New health minister under fire for opposing abortion

Ben Gummer arrives in Downing Street for a meeting with David Cameron (Photo: PA)

The Government’s new health minister has come under fire from pro-abortion lobby groups because he has previously declared his opposition to the practice.

Catholic Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, who has been appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, said in a Guardian interview in 2008: “I am personally and principally opposed to abortion.”

Mr Gummer told the Guardian: “I think abortion is too high in Britain and that something does need to be done about that. I would vote for a reduction [in the upper limit of 24 weeks], though I would have to make that decision after reviewing the evidence. I am personally and principally opposed to abortion but I don’t think it would be responsible to try and ban it outright.”

Following Mr Gummer’s appointment this week Clare Murphy, director of external affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas), told the Independent: “It is concerning that ministers with roles that involve women’s health and equality apparently oppose abortion – their stance does not reflect the view of their electorate.”

She said: “The last Parliament sadly saw a number of attempts to introduce fresh restrictions on abortion.”

Mr Gummer responded to the comments by saying: “Change to abortion law has always been a matter for Parliament, not for the government. It is accepted parliamentary practice that proposals for changes in the law on abortion come from backbench members, not ministers, and that decisions are made on the basis of free votes, as with all matters of conscience.”