.- After a long legal battle, abortion statistics released by the British government show a “shocking level of discrimination” against the disabled, pro-life groups said.
“Between 2001 and 2010, the number of abortions on the ground of disability rose by one-third, 10 times that of abortions generally. It is clear that legal abortion is a system which discriminates, fatally, against the disabled,” commented Anthony Ozimic, the communications manager of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.
The British Department of Health has released the numbers, gestational ages and types of disabilities of babies aborted between 2002 and 2010. In 2010, 482 babies with Down’s syndrome were aborted.
Sixty-six of the late abortions in 2010 were linked to nervous system problems such as spina bifida. No late-term abortions were carried out for cleft lip and palate, but seven were carried out before the legal limit of 24 weeks for this reason, the BBC reports.
Another 29 late abortions were carried out for chromosomal problems, including 10 for Down’s syndrome and 10 for Edward’s syndrome.
The ProLife Alliance characterized the effort to release the statistics as a “David and Goliath legal battle.” Its freedom of information request in February 2005 took six years to fulfill.
The alliance said that it is opposed to all abortion, but it added that the termination of babies who could survive outside the womb 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,” the organization said July 4.
“(T)his 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,” said Julia Millington, spokeswoman for the ProLife Alliance.
Her organization thanked former MP Ann Widdecombe and Prof. Stuart Campbell, who gave expert evidence in court on the organization’s behalf.
Until 2003 the British Department of Health published statistics on all late abortions. Its 2002 figures sparked an outcry when they showed one abortion targeted a baby with a cleft lip and palate, an easily reparable problem.
Pro-life groups said the rules were being flouted to weed out “less than perfect babies.” Anglican cleric Rev. Joanna Jepson, who was born with a jaw deformity, filed a complaint which resulted in a police investigation into whether the abortion was illegal.
Abortion on “social” grounds is legal only in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. The 1967 Abortion Act, which applies to Scotland and England and Wales, makes it legal to abort an unborn child up to birth if there is a substantial risk of “serious” physical or mental abnormality.
One of the doctors involved in the 2002 cleft palate abortion was identified by journalists in 2004 using public information, causing concerns that the identity of the patient could also be revealed.
The Health Department in 2003 decided no longer to reveal detailed information on late abortions where procedures involving certain medical conditions numbered less than 10.