Thousands of Babies with Disabilities such as Down’s syndrome and Cleft Palate Aborted in England and Wales

By Dave Andrusko

Rev. Joanna Jepson

A lengthy battle between pro-lifers in England and a recalcitrant Department of Health has finally resulted in the government explaining what babies were aborted for what reasons under a section of the 1967 Abortion Act which allows for abortion up until birth if there is a substantial risk of “serious” physical or mental abnormality.

The report released yesterday revealed the precise numbers, gestational ages, and types of disability of babies aborted between 2002 and 2010 in England and Wales. In 2010 alone, 482 babies with Down’s syndrome were aborted, including ten who were over 24 weeks of age.

According to the Department of Health  a total of 2,290 babies were aborted last year for “medical conditions.”

“Between 2001 and 2010, the number of abortions on the grounds of disability rose by one-third, 10 times that of abortions generally,” said Anthony Ozimic, communications manager for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC). “It is clear that legal abortion is a system which discriminates, fatally, against the disabled.” “

The headline in the Daily Mail caught the flavor of the report perfectly: “Revealed: The thousands of pregnancies aborted for ‘abnormalities’ including cleft palates and Down’s syndrome.”

According to the Daily Mail

·         “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.”

As we have discussed many times in the past, the chronology of this victory for transparency, begun by the Reverend Joanna Jepson, goes back to the early 2000s.

“Ground E” of the 1967 Abortion Act is supposed to be the only conditions under which a baby can be aborted after the 24th week—tragically, all the way up to birth!

Everything was going along smoothly for pro-abortionists. The Department of Health would publish its study of abortions performed under “Ground E” and that would be that.

“But the publication of the figures in 2002 sparked an outcry when it became clear that one termination was carried out on a baby with a cleft lip and palate,” wrote the BBC. “Critics argued that a relatively simple surgical procedure can now repair cleft palates, and anti-abortion groups argued the rules were being flouted to weed out ‘less than perfect’ babies.”

The Rev. Jepson, herself born with a cleft palate, charged that a cleft palate did not meet the definition of being “seriously handicapped,” according to Stephen Adams. “She argued that the doctors had therefore carried out an unlawful killing, but the Crown Prosecution Service declined to prosecute, saying the doctors had acted in good faith.” The Rev. Jepson’s attempts to get legal satisfaction apparently met a dead end and, to add insult to injury, beginning in 2003 the Department of Health (DOH) stopped publishing detailed information on “Ground E” abortions.

Undeterred the ProLife Alliance in 2005 used the Freedom of Information Act to request the full statistics on abortions for 2003. When the DOH refused the Alliance took its case to the Information Rights Tribunal which “ruled that the numbers of women who had late abortions because their unborn babies had such conditions should be published,” wrote Adams. The DOH dug its heels in, saying this information was “sensitive, personal, and private.”

The DOH asked the High Court to overturn the Information Right Tribunal decision. After losing in April, the DOH muttered about possibly appealing but eventually decided otherwise.

Julia Millington of 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.”

In her typical ungraceful manner Ann Furedi, chief executive of the abortion-providing British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said, “The publication of these statistics after a campaign by the anti-abortion lobby reveals little more than their own vindictiveness.”

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