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Abortion: Disability

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 103511, tabled on 14 October 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what data the Department holds on selective abortions on grounds of disability in England and Wales from January to June 2020.

Answered on

4 November 2020

This answer is a correction from the original answer.

Under the Abortion Act 1967, a pregnancy may be lawfully terminated by a registered medical practitioner in approved premises, if two medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the abortion is justified under one or more of grounds A to G. Ground E refers to cases where “there is substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped”. There can be multiple reasons for an abortion for a fetal abnormality, therefore there can be more than one medical condition mentioned on a HSA4 form.

Selective abortions are abortions where the number of fetuses in the womb is reduced.

There were 55 mentions of medical conditions for selective abortions performed under ground E between January to June 2020, a breakdown of which is available in the attached table.

Original answer

Under the Abortion Act 1967, a pregnancy may be lawfully terminated by a registered medical practitioner in approved premises, if two medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the abortion is justified under one or more of grounds A to G. Ground E refers to cases where “there is substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped”. There can be multiple reasons for an abortion for a fetal abnormality, therefore there can be more than one medical condition mentioned on a HSA4 form.

Selective abortions are abortions where the number of fetuses in the womb is reduced.

There were 55 mentions of medical conditions for selective abortions performed under ground E between January to June 2020, a breakdown of which is available in the attached table.

Answered by

Department of Health and Social Care