Sunday, 7 December 2008

When the Law of God is thrown in the bin, why not do the same with the Law of Man?

Courtesy of The Telegraph

Late abortions of "less than perfect" foetuses are the subject of a secrecy row with the Government.

It centres on mothers who opt for termination because their unborn babies have been diagnosed with conditions such as club foot and cleft palate.

Doctors say such conditions can usually be corrected by surgery.

The Information Commissioner has ordered the release of the figures, but the Department of Health is resisting, claiming that disclosing the data could lead to women who have late abortions being identified.

While abortion is only legal in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy if carried out on social grounds, "Ground E" of the 1967 Abortion Act makes it legal to abort a foetus which has a serious risk of physical or mental abnormality, right up to birth. There are continuing concerns that the law is being flouted to weed out "less than perfect" babies.

Prof Stuart Campbell, the leading obstetrician whose 3D-scan images of babies "walking in the womb" at 12 weeks led to calls for a lowering of the 24-week limit for social abortion, said last night: "It is a disgraceful situation for this data to be suppressed.

"This is not about whether one agrees with abortion. These statistics used to be published, now they are being withheld.

"Transparency is the essence of medicine. If we don't have that, all sorts of wrongdoing can go on. I am not saying that using abortion is doing wrong, but we need to see the data in order to understand what is happening." Health chiefs stopped publishing full abortion data three years ago after a public outcry over the termination of a foetus with a cleft palate at 28 weeks' gestation. The legality of this late abortion, carried out in 2001, was challenged by a Church of England curate, Joanna Jepson, who was born with a congenital jaw defect.

In 2005 the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to bring any charges against the NHS consultant, who publicly confirmed that he carried out the procedure, and another doctor.

Ministers were sufficiently worried by the prospect of further complaints – which they argued would invade the privacy of doctors carrying out terminations and women having abortions – to strictly limit the publication of the figures.

From 2005, official abortion statistics were "suppressed" if fewer than 10 cases were carried out. This in effect meant that abortion details on babies with club feet, webbed fingers and toes, or cleft lips and palates, disappeared from public view.

The last year for which data were fully available, 2002, showed that five foetuses were aborted because they had deformed feet, and a sixth because of a cleft lip and ­palate. In 2000 and 2001, nine foetuses were aborted because of cleft lip and palate, while a further two were aborted for cleft lip alone.

During 2007, a total of 1,900 abortions were carried out under Ground E and of these, 648 were late abortions, after 20 weeks. A total of 125 foetuses were aborted for musculoskeletal disorders, which may include club feet, with 13 of these cases over 24 weeks gestation.

Figures on cleft lip and palate were combined with deformities of the eye, ear, face, neck and skin to reach a total of 88 abortions in these categories. No further breakdown was given. A number of these foetuses were aborted after 24 weeks but the figure is ­suppressed.

Information about the number of abortions carried out for cleft lip and palate, and club feet was requested by the Pro-Life Alliance using the Freedom of Information Act.

When the DoH refused to release the figures, the case was referred to the Information Commissioner, who ruled in favour of the campaigners...for more click here.


Anonymous said...

It's so mind-boggling. Will we really just accept fascism as long as it is administrated in tiny little bites, a drop of poison at a time? How can they suppress this information? (Easily, apparently--and then they'll stop collecting it, with the stroke of a pen. Because we're asleep.)

Anonymous said...

Laurence, I was looking for that post about the African Catholic so I could make good on my promise to send some size 7 sneakers, but I can't find it.

You sure are a prolific poster! Good work!

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