Abortions of babies with Down syndrome in UK underreported by half
LONDON, January 22, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Children with Downs syndrome are being aborted nearly twice as frequently in the UK as government statistics say.
According to data available from the National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register (NDSCR), of the 1,188 babies diagnosed prenatally in 2010, 942 were aborted, 25 miscarried or were stillborn, 52 were born alive and in 167 the outcome was “unknown”. However, the Department of Health only reported 482 “terminations” for Down's in the same year, less than half the number recorded by the NDSCR.
A department spokesman told the Catholic Herald that the government is working on the issue. “We are aware that there is a potential discrepancy in figures and are looking into this in further detail,” the spokesman said.
Dr. Peter Saunders, chairman of the Christian Medical Fellowship, was the first to make the discrepancy public and asked whether it is an indication of other cover-ups.
“Does this mean that doctors are knowingly falsifying abortion certification forms by neglecting to put down the true diagnosis for babies with congenital abnormalities?” he asked.
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“Is this possibly even evidence of a failure of abortion reporting on a much greater scale? Might this be an under-reporting problem that goes much beyond babies with trisomy conditions?”
Last year, investigations by the Daily Telegraph newspaper revealed that doctors are willing to falsify documents to facilitate abortions. Under the current rules, doctors are obliged to take into consideration the mother’s reasons for wanting to abort and must record the abortion as classified under a predetermined number of “grounds.” The Telegraph released video footage of one doctor granting an abortion because the child was a girl but listing it under a different ground.
The flap resulted in the launching by Health Minister Andrew Lansley of an investigation.
In reponse to the discrepancy in Down syndrome abortion numbers, Saunders speculated on the extent of the misrepresentation of the data. “Are [abortionists] perhaps, possibly even deliberately, mis-classifying them as abortions on mental health grounds? Or are they just not bothering to report at all?
“Might it actually be that only half of all abortions for any foetal abnormality are being reported? Is it even possible that this degree of under-reporting operates across other categories of abortion, perhaps even all categories? In other words might the Department of Health figures be grossly under-reporting the total number of abortions in England in Wales?”
There appears to be little concern within the government or the media establishment over eugenic abortion. In 2004 there was a flurry of news reports over “unnecessary” abortions of children with correctible abnormalities like cleft palate and club foot. But complaints made to police by Church of England minister Joanna Jepson, whose brother has Down syndrome, went nowhere as the Crown Prosecution Service said doctors had acted “in good faith”.
Under the 1991 amendment to the Abortion Act 1967, abortions are allowed without time restriction if doctors believe “there is a substantial risk that if the child was born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.” The decision lies entirely with the individual physician to determine how “serious” the suspected handicap might be, with no definitions given in the Act. Between 1995 and late 2003, 26 children with cleft palates were aborted in the UK, two after 24 weeks.
It is well known that a prenatal diagnosis of Down’s nearly always results in the death by abortion for the child. US studies have shown that 84 to 91 per cent of children diagnosed in the womb with Down syndrome are killed. A 2004 study showed the number to be 95 per cent in Britain.
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