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Department of Health Abortion Statistics for 2013 Released

The latest Department of Health abortion statistics for 2013 are now available online. Numbers worth noting in the DoH report, include:

  • There were 185,331 abortions in 2013, an increase of 0.1% from the previous year. 46% of these involved the procedure known as ‘vacuum aspiration’, in which extreme suction is employed to remove the unborn child, piece-by-piece, from her mother’s womb.
  • The vast majority of abortions (97%; 180,680) were undertaken under ‘Ground C’ of the Abortion Act 1967, of which 99.84% were because of a risk to the mother’s mental health. Since the International Classification of Diseases does not give a specifying breakdown of ‘mental disorder’, the individual threats to women’s mental health are not recorded by the Department of Health.
  • 37% of women undergoing abortions had one or more previous abortions (up from 32% in 2003), including 34% of those aged between 20-24, and 44% aged between 25-29.
  • 2,732 abortions were carried out under Ground E (due to risk or confirmation of fetal disability). Of these, in just over a third of cases chromosomal abnormalities were reported as the principal medical condition (37%; 1003), and Down’s syndrome was the most commonly reported (22%; 590).

More details in the report itself.

Whether the public can have proper trust in the verisimilitude of these statistics is questionable, given the recent controversy over the failure of Doctors to gather correct statistics for abortions due to Down’s Syndrome. In the light of this, as well as the cavalier attitudes towards HSA4 forms that the reality of gender-selection and pre-signing exposes, what assurances can the Department of Health give the public that doctors have correctly completed the forms upon which their figures rely? Moreover, when abuses of abortion procedure can go un-prosecuted, what does this tell us about the integrity and safety of the system itself?

Even accepting the figures as they are, what they tell us is deeply concerning. This year a huge proportion – 45.3% – of terminations for women over the age of 25 were repeat abortions, which suggests the use of abortion not as an emergency procedure but as a form of birth control (contrary not only to public opinion, but the letter and spirit of the law itself.) We also see reported that 2,732 babies were not allowed to live in 2012/13 purely because they were disabled. This kind of practice is appallingly discriminatory and has no place in a modern civilised country. All human beings are equal in dignity and rights, and we should not have laws that prevent some people from being born purely on the basis of their ability.

All of this illustrates how extreme, unjust, lax, outdated, and unenforceable the 1967 Abortion Act is, given in particular the way it is implemented by the Department of Heath according to current regulations. The law, or at very least, the regulatory framework in which abortion practice currently operates, needs radical reform for the good of mothers and their unborn children.