03/10/2012 12:38 BST | Updated 03/10/2012 12:44 BST

Maria Miller's Abortion Comments Are 'Anti-Women' And Have No Basis In Science, Diane Abbott Says

The call by women's minister Maria Miller to lower the abortion limit to 20 weeks is "anti-women" and could signal the beginning of a right-wing push to restrict terminations in Britain, Diane Abbott has warned.

The shadow health minister's comments came after Miller said it was "common sense" to restrict abortion.

"I think it's very alarming that a minister for women should express these views. I appreciate she's doing it in a personal capacity but the way that right-wing elements of that have latched on to that, talking about starting a campaign to lower time limits [for abortion] is not helpful," she told The Huffington Post UK.

"Tories need to move away from this anti-women politics and I hope that the Department of Health means what it says when it says it has no plans to lower the time limit," she said.

"If right-wing Tories are unwise enough to launch a campaign on time limits in the Autumn I will be standing ready to work with other MPs across the house to oppose them."

Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said Miller, who claimed scientific evidence had "moved on" and more babies born before 24 weeks were surviving, was incorrect.

"Scientific evidence does not show that survival rates before 24 weeks have improved in recent years, as the minister seems to believe," she said.

Abbott added it was worrying that Miller's comments had "no basis in science."

"I find it troubling that a senior government politician should say things which have no basis in science. There's been no sudden improvement in the survival rates. She should know that."

Miller's stance was welcomed by Tory MP Nadine Dorries who tabled a private members bill last year that would have banned organisations that carry out abortions such as Marie Stopes, from offering counselling.

She tweeted: "Maria Miller understands importance of recognising some women are traumatised by abortion process, that's real feminism."

But asked what 'real' feminism is, Abbott said: "A feminist is somebody who believes in women's equality with men in every sphere. A feminist is somebody who is also willing to defend the rights of women."

Miller insisted her decision to previously vote to lower the abortion limit was not a snub to women's rights, describing herself as a "very modern feminist" who is "riven by that very practical impact that late-term abortion has on women".

Between 1 and 2% of abortions in Britain take place after 20 weeks, the equivalent of 3,000 terminations per year, according to The Telegraph.

Abortions after 24 weeks are permitted in rare circumstances where there is evidence of severe deformity in the baby or the mother's health is at serious risk.