RCOG statement in response to Daily Telegraph report ‘Baby girls aborted, no questions asked’ (23 Feb 12)

The Abortion Act 1967 governs abortion in England, Scotland and Wales.

Abortion is legal if two doctors decide in good faith that in relation to a particular pregnancy one or more of the grounds specified in the Abortion Act are met. These are:

  • The continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman greater than if the pregnancy were terminated
  • The termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman
  • The pregnancy has not exceeded its 24th week and the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman
  • The pregnancy has not exceeded its 24th week and the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of any existing child(ren) of the family of the pregnant woman
  • There is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped

Dr Tony Falconer, President of the RCOG said:

“Abortion is already heavily regulated in the UK. Doctors must work within the law. 

“Anecdotally, there are social and cultural reasons for preferring one gender over another and we need to know more about why these occur. The issues are complex.  For instance, women may be coerced or threatened with violence into having an abortion.  The priority would be to identify who these women are and to provide them with support.   

“The government has announced an urgent enquiry into these claims and we await the findings.”

Ends

For more information please contact Naomi Weston on 020 7772 6357 or email nweston@rcog.org.uk

Abortion Act 1967: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1967/87/contents 

UPDATE: The Chief Medical Officer issued a letter to all service providers on the law in response to the story.  This can be found here.    

Date published: 23/02/2012
Published by: Naomi Weston

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