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Health Department fails to reveal extent of abortions for correctable deformities

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According to the European monitoring project dozens of abortions are being carried out on unborn babies with minor abnormalities such as a cleft lip and palate or club foot.

Reports indicate many figures published by the Department of Health are not being accurately recorded. When compared with the Eurocat report, a European network of registers for congenital anomalies, there were three times less abortions recorded in some categories.


A leading obstetrician said aborting so many unborn babies with treatable conditions was “horrific” and described the failure to officially record the terminations as “a disgrace”.

Experts are concerned doctors are trying to avoid controversy over terminating “imperfect” babies and cover them up  to protect the mother’s feelings at aborting a deformed child.

If tests indicate the child will be seriously disabled there is no upper time limit for an abortion.

Last week a cross-party parliamentary commission was launched to investigate the number of disabled babies being terminated.

Range of sources

Eurocats statistics are taken from a range of sources including NHS foetal medicine specialists, ultrasonographers and genetic testing laboratories, allowing them to track what happens in each case where an abnormality is detected.

The Department of Health’s figures are based on the forms that a doctor conducting an abortion has to submit.

According to Eurocat, between 2006 and 2010 157 foetuses were aborted for cleft lip and palate in England and Wales, but just 14 of these show up in Department of Health abortion statistics. In 2010, 24 foetuses were aborted, compared with the seven recorded by the Department of Health.

Over the same period 205 foetuses with club foot were aborted, according to Eurocat, while in 2010 the figure was 37. Government data on club foot abortions is published only as part of a wider category called “musculoskeletal”.

The Department of Health said: “We are aware that there is a potential discrepancy in figures and are looking into this in further detail.”


“These figures are devastating,” said Andrea Williams of Christian Concern.

“All humans are created in the image of God and are therefore precious. Each life is worth living, with or without abnormalities.

“We must recover this view of human life so that abortions for abnormalities are no longer carried out”.


The Sunday Times (£)