Lord Howe told peers that despite his boss, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, speaking out in favour of halving the current 24-week term limit, the Government would take no action.
Home Secretary Theresa May and Culture Secretary Maria Miller have also suggested they would support a reduction in the limit to 20 weeks. However, at question time in the House of Lords, Lord Howe said: "The Government has no plans to review the Abortion Act. It is Parliamentary practice that any proposals to change abortion laws come from backbench members and decisions are on the basis of free votes."
For the opposition, Baroness Thornton said people were worried following the statements from Mr Hunt and other senior ministers. She said: "They are entitled to their personal views but we need to know how that might influence public policy."
She asked Lord Howe to clarify that his initial answer meant "the Government will not support any change to the abortion time limit for the duration of this Parliament".
Lord Howe told her Mr Hunt had been expressing a personal view. He added: "Successive governments have taken the view they should rest on the evidence and there is no call from the main medical bodies that a review of the Act in relation to time limits is needed."
Tory former minister Lord Hamilton of Epsom said the current abortion legislation had been introduced by a private member's bill. He said: "Surely that is the right way to deal with these matters."
However, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Rev Alastair Redfern, asked whether there should be a debate on the consequences of the "enormous increase in the number of abortions".