WESTMINSTER, August 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Figures released by the Department of Health last week show that of the over 6 million abortions committed in England and Wales since legalization in 1967, 0.006 percent were performed with the intention of saving the life of the mother or preventing serious injury.

A total of 143 abortions have been obtained under the legal grounds allowing abortion “where the termination is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.” An additional 23,778 abortions, or 0.37 percent of the total abortions performed between 1968 and 2011, were committed because the continuance of pregnancy was deemed to constitute a “risk” to the life of the mother “greater than if the pregnancy were terminated.”

The information was released at the request of Lord David Alton, a former Labour and Liberal Democrat Party MP and now member of the House of Lords who sits on a parliamentary pro-life committee. Lord Alton wrote that when the case was made for legalizing abortion, it was argued that the law needed to be changed to “deal with extremely serious situations.”

“More than 6 million abortions later the figures reveal that in 99.5% of cases where an unborn child’s life is ended there is no risk to the health of the mother,” he said.

“Other figures reveal that three teenage girls have had 24 abortions between them and that some women have had more than eight legal abortions.”

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The 1967 Abortion Act, under its current wording and including all amendments, allows abortion before 24 weeks gestation if there is deemed to be “a risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated,” of “injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family;” and to “prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.”

As well, if there is a “substantial risk” that the child suffers from “such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped,” he can be aborted up to the end of full gestation, though doctors are rarely willing to abort a late or full-term child.

Abortions must be approved by two doctors, though it was recently revealed that this rule is widely ignored.

These rules have been interpreted by both doctors and judges so broadly that pro-life observers maintain that they have effectively permitted abortion on demand up to 24 weeks.

In 2002, Lord Justice Laws said, “There is some evidence that many doctors maintain that the continuance of a pregnancy is always more dangerous to the physical welfare of a woman than having an abortion, a state of affairs which is said to allow a situation of de facto abortion on demand to prevail.”

Pro-life advocates have long maintained that there is no circumstance in which an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother.

Earlier this year an eminent Irish oncologist, professor and politician, who is himself not pro-life, wrote that in all his years practicing he has never encountered a situation in which abortion was needed to save a mother’s life.

Dr. John Crown, who has lectured in 40 countries and is the author of 150 research papers told his Twitter followers that he had during his medical career faced some “hard decisions re: chemotherapy in pregnancy.”

However, he said, “I don’t think I ever had a case where abortion was necessary to save mom.”