To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to ensure the adequate provision of (a) support and (b) counselling for healthcare professionals involved in late-term abortions who witness babies being born alive; and if he will make a statement.
19 December 2017
In line with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ (RCOG) clinical guidelines, feticide should be performed before medical abortion after 21 weeks and six days of gestation to ensure that there is no risk of a live birth.
As set out in the RCOG guideline on Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Abnormality, live birth following termination of pregnancy before 21 weeks and six days of gestation is very uncommon. The guideline can be viewed at:
However, women and their partners should be counselled about this unlikely possibility and staff should be trained to deal with this eventuality.
Where the fetal abnormality is not compatible with survival, termination of pregnancy after 21 weeks and six days of gestation without prior feticide may be preferred by some women. In such cases, the delivery management should be discussed and planned with the parents and all health professionals involved and a written care plan agreed before the termination takes place.
All employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees. It is for abortion providers to ensure that appropriate training, support and, if needed, counselling is available for all staff performing late term abortion.
Information on the number of live births following termination of pregnancy is not collected centrally.