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Thousands Of Pregnancies Aborted Last Year For Abnormalities

July 5, 2011

This is shocking.

Thousands of pregnancies were aborted last year for ‘abnormalities’ including 500 for Down’s syndrome, new figures reveal.

In total, there were 2,290 abortions for medical problems with the foetus, with 147 performed after 24 weeks.

The statistics for 2010 in England and Wales were released after the Department of Health yielded to a Freedom of Information Request from the Pro Life Alliance, following a five-year legal battle.

It is the first time in nearly a decade that the Government has released data on abortions performed on the grounds of disability.

Julia Millington, spokeswoman for the ProLife Alliance, said: ‘This is a great victory for transparency and freedom of speech and we are delighted that full information about the justification for late abortions is now being made available in the same detail as it was in 2001.’

The data reveals that in 2010, 482 foetuses were aborted for Down’s syndrome, including 10 who were over 24 weeks.

There were also 128 terminations for the nervous disorder spina bifida, including 12 after 24 weeks.

Musculoskeletal problems such as club foot were the reason for 181 abortions, including eight over 24 weeks.

There were seven terminations on the grounds of a cleft palate, rising to 26 terminations for this condition since 2002.

 Abortions for medical conditions in 2010
Total Abortions Abortions over 24wks
All medical conditions 2,290 147
Spina Bifida 128 12
Cleft lip and palate 7 0
Musculoskeletal system (Eg, club foot) 181 8
Down’s syndrome 482 10
Edwards’ syndrome 164 10
Foetus affected by maternal factors 115 7
Family history of inherited disorder 181 1

It marks the end of a six-year battle between an anti-abortion group and the Government for access to the controversial data.

In 2005, Pro Life Alliance asked that the Department of Health to publish data on foetal abnormalities for 2003.

 The figures were suppressed after a Church of England curate, the Rev Joanna Jepson, went to the the High Court to challenge the legality of a baby terminated at 28 weeks in 2001 because it had a cleft palate.

Miss Jepson who was born with a jaw deformation, which was corrected by surgery, said the case demonstrated the ‘culture of physical perfection.’

Foetus at 24 weeks: Newly released data reveals there were 147 abortions after 24 weeks due to medical problems such as Down’s syndrome

The Department of Health had challenged the move, saying the numbers were so low it could lead to women being identified.

The Government then challenged successful appeals made by the anti-abortion group to The Information Commissioner and an Information Tribunal.

 However, in April, the Department of Health finally conceded defeat after the appeal was upheld by the High Court.
They also released figures on abortions to under-16s between 2002 and 2010. There were an astonishing 35,262 terminations during this period.

In 2010 there were 3,718 under-16s abortions in England, including 2,676 to 15-year-olds, 906 to 14-year-olds, 134 to 13-year-olds and two to 12-year-olds.Ms Millington, said: ‘The ProLife Alliance is opposed to all abortion at any stage in pregnancy, but terminating the lives of babies at gestational ages when they could survive is always particularly horrifying. 

‘We have always argued that if these abortions are permitted under law, there should be no attempt whatsoever to hide details of the numbers or justifications.’

A cleft lip and palate is the most common facial birth defect in the UK. There have been 40 terminations for cleft palates since 2002

However, Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), said: ‘The publication of these statistics after a campaign by the anti-abortion lobby reveals little more than their own vindictiveness.

‘Abortion for foetal anomaly is legal. Behind every one of these figures are doctors and nurses who deserve our admiration and support, and a couple who have often lost a much-wanted pregnancy.’

Abortion is legal in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy for disability reasons but also if the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother’s mental health.

After 24 weeks, an abortion is allowed only if there is substantial risk of ‘serious’ physical or mental abnormality, or the woman’s life is in danger.

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