The Department of Health has published abortion figures for 2013. There were 202,577 abortions in Great Britain; 190,800 in England and Wales and 11,777 in Scotland.
Of 185,331 abortions in England and Wales on England and Wales residents, 98 per cent were funded by the NHS. Abortions using abortion pills, as opposed to surgical abortions, were up at 49 per cent of the total. Thirty-seven per cent of the women had had at least one previous abortion; 49 women had had eight previous abortions or more. Legal abortions in Britain have now topped eight million.
But the Department of Health figures, it turns out, cannot be relied on. The reason is bad record-keeping by abortion doctors.
Here is how the discrepancies were revealed. The National Down's Syndrome Cytogenetic Register is notified by hospitals each time a Down's syndrome diagnosis is made, and researchers follow each case to abortion or birth. The register showed 994 babies aborted because of possible Down's syndrome in 2012. Some were over 24 weeks.
Abortion doctors are required by law to report each abortion to the Department of Health with reasons for the abortion. Department of Health figures showed only 496 abortions for the condition. In some cases, other reasons were given for termination. The remaining records are missing.
In 2011, of 937 Down's syndrome abortions, only 410 could be matched by DoH records.
Are the offending doctors to be pursued with a view to prosecution? Evidently not. The DoH says simply "The Department of Health asked the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to consider the possible reasons for under-reporting of abortions on the grounds of fetal abnormality and make recommendations for improvement. . . The Department of Health will work closely with RCOG and other organisations in implementing the recommendations where possible."
Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton, said it was clear that doctors had breached the law. "Worryingly, the department appears to have made no attempt to see the law is properly enforced. We now know that nearly half of abortions for Down's syndrome were incorrectly recorded. How many doctors were referred for investigation? None."
Ms Bruce led an independent parliamentary inquiry into abortion on grounds of disability, a particular concern of hers.
"Abortion for foetal abnormality is something society would rather not face. But every single day at least eight babies have their lives prematurely ended because they happen to be disabled," she says. "This kind of practice does not belong to the 21st century. Disabled people are equal and we should not have special laws to prevent them from being born."