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Number of abortions for cleft lip, cleft palate and club foot – England and Wales

Cleft lip and cleft palate – number between 2011 and 2018

  • The actual number that has occurred each year is likely to be much higher due to figures for cleft lip and palate abortion being consistently underreported in the official abortion statistics.
  • For example, a 2013 review by Eurocat showed 157 babies were aborted with cleft lip and palate in England and Wales between 2006 and 2010. However, the Department of Health & Social Care (DoHSC) recorded only 14 such abortions.
YEARNUMBER (principle condition cleft lip and cleft palate)SOURCE
2017 revised figures13https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/763141/2017-abortion-statistics-data-tables-revised.ods

Club foot

  • Terminations for club foot are not published as a category in the annual abortion statistics. MPs have asked for figures for recent years from the DoHSC, but they are reluctant to release data on club foot. 
  • Data reported by Eurocat showed that 205 babies with club foot were aborted in England and Wales between 2006 and 2010.

Further information on underreporting:

  • The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed underreporting of disability abortions was occurring in a 2014 report.
  • Joan Morris, national co-ordinator for Eurocat and professor of medical statistics at Queen Mary, University of London, offered the following explanation for why underreporting occurs: “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?”

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