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RCOG statement on the article ‘One baby in 30 left alive after medical termination’ (Daily Mail, 20 April 2007)

News 20 April 2007

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has very strong guidelines on terminations of pregnancy after 22 weeks.

According to the guidelines, after 22 weeks and beyond, if there are signs of major fetal abnormality and the patient has requested an abortion, the patient should be offered feticide, where a lethal injection is administered. The patient has every right to refuse this course of action.

The consequences to the fetus are: if the fetus has had a lethal injection, it will normally die. However, there are some instances when there are signs of life at birth. All babies must be treated with dignity and respect. Palliative care should be provided till the baby dies where relevant.

An expert group of the RCOG is currently examining the management of cases when babies are born before 21 weeks 6 days and will produce a report with guidelines in due course.

The press item relates to the following article:

Termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly: a population-based study 1995 to 2004 / MP Wyldes, AM Tonks (2007). BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 114 (5), 639–642.