By Hilary White
Proposed guidelines on abortion, by the Welsh Assembly Government, admit that there could be “negative psychological outcomes” associated with “terminations”. To combat these, the government guidelines mandate that most abortions should be carried out within a week of the medical assessment and that there must be no more than a three week waiting period for legal abortions.
Dr Tony Calland, chair of the committee and Welsh Council, endorsed a recommendation by the British Medical Association to do away with the need for two doctors to approve abortion requests. The guidelines are designed to ensure “services are organised to enable abortions to be provided as early in gestation as possible,” in order to avoid potentially “more traumatic” later abortions.
The guidelines also say that all women in Wales should have telephone access to abortion services, pre and post-abortion counseling services and access to tests for sexually transmitted infections.
The abortion rate in Wales is slightly lower than that of the British average. In 2002, 7,360 Wales women had abortions: a decrease of 2 per cent from 2001. The total number of abortions in 2006 for women resident in England and Wales was 193,700, compared with 186,400 in 2005, a rise of 3.9 per cent.
Under the current laws, abortions, usually called “terminations”, can be committed up to 24 weeks gestation, except in cases of eugenic abortions where some kind of defect has been detected in the child. The termination must be endorsed by two physicians who must confirm the reason.
According to 2002 Wales statistics, by far the most common legal ground for termination in 2000 was “risk of injury to the health of the woman.” Official statistics list anxiety, depression, stress, and “social difficulties” as the cited “medical reasons” in nearly 99 per cent of all abortions of Welsh children.
Of the 51 cases naming “risk of a handicapped child” as the legal grounds, “the most common chromosomal anomaly mentioned was Down’s Syndrome.”
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Abortion on the Rise in England and Wales