Monday, February 11, 2013

'Ten times error' in abortion figures

You may remember the brouhaha there was 11 years ago when Joanna Jepson, later a Church of England minister. went to court to challenge the legality of an abortion that had been carried out at 28 weeks because the baby had a cleft palate.

European researchers now say that more than 10 times as many abortions take place for cleft lip in the UK than are recorded in Department of Health statistics.

According to the Telegraph, Eurocat, which was set up to register congenital abnormalities in 23 countries, claims 157 unborn babies were aborted for cleft lip and palate in England and Wales between 2006 and 2010. The Department of Health records only 14.

In the same period, according to Eurocat, there were 205 abortions for club foot, another problem that can normally be corrected by surgery. Department of Health records put the figure much lower.

Eurocat also claims that the number of babies aborted in 2010 for Down's syndrome was almost double the number officially recorded - 886 compared to 482.

The difference is believed to be because of sources of data. The European group tracks what happens when the unborn baby has been identified as having an abnormality, obtaining the information from foetal medicine specialists, ultrasonographers and genetic testing laboratories. The Department of Health figures come from forms filled in by doctors carrying out abortions.

Doctors are said not to be recording the true reason for the abortion, either to spare the woman's feelings or avoid controversy.

Dr Joan Morris, national co-ordinator for Eurocat and professor of medical statistics at Queen Mary, University of London, said "Babies are aborted for Down's and they still don't put that on the abortion form, so if they can't do it for Down's, why would they put cleft lip?"

A Department of Health spokesman said "We are aware that there is a potential discrepancy in figures and are looking into this in further detail."