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14 May 2003 : Column WA39

Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many late abortions were performed in each of the last ten years for which figures are available in pregnancies of:


    (a) 24 weeks;


    (b) 25 weeks;


    (c) 26 weeks;


    (d) 27 weeks;


    (e) 28 weeks;


    (f) Over 28 weeks; and

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    whether they will indicate the numbers and percentages of those abortions which were performed on legal grounds. [HL2609]

Baroness Andrews: The following table shows numbers of abortions performed at more than 24 weeks 0 days gestation for the years 1991 to 2001.

A pregnancy may be terminated only if two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith, that an abortion is justified within the terms of the Abortion Act 1967, as amended. All of the abortions (100 per cent) shown in the table were legally performed under the grounds set out in the Act.

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Numbers of late abortions in England and Wales, residents and non-residents, by gestation 1991–2001

Gestation in weeks
Total late abortions24(1)25262728over 28
199160*18179610
1992601865526
19937421139724
199494232191328
199574131351132
1996107312191135
19977410226432
19988811141013832
199911625231371236
2000126232115111244
200113025219161148

Footnotes

*Includes eight abortions that were performed in the first part of the year before the Abortion Act was amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990.

(1) Figures for 1991 to 1997 are of abortions performed at 25 weeks 0 days gestation or more; figures from 1998 onwards are of abortions performed at more than 24 weeks 0 days gestation. Prior to 1998, data on terminations performed at gestations of up to 24 weeks 6 days were included in the 23–24 gestation band. The data for terminations performed at 24 weeks 1 day or more cannot be separately identified within this, and are therefore not available.


14 May 2003 : Column WA39

Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give a breakdown by regional health authority of the number of abortions performed in the latest two years for which figures are available in pregnancies of—


    (a) 24 weeks;


    (b) 25 weeks;


    (c) 26 weeks;


    (d) 27 weeks;


    (e) 28 weeks;


    (f) over 28 weeks; whether they will indicate the grounds upon which those abortions were performed; and, whether they will indicate where appropriate the nature of any

14 May 2003 : Column WA40

    possible handicap from which the baby might have been suffering.[HL2610]

Baroness Andrews: We do not publish regional data on abortions performed under Section 1(1)(d) of the Abortion Act, as amended (that 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). This is because of the small numbers involved which might lead to identification of individual cases. We have therefore set out the data in the following separate tables. The first table shows the number of conditions cited for abortions performed under Section 1(1)(d) of the Act and the second shows all abortions performed under Sections 1(1)(b), 1(1)(c) and 1(1)(d) beyond 24-weeks gestation in 2000 and 2001.

14 May 2003 : Column WA39

Abortions performed at over 24-weeks gestation, England and Wales residents, 2000 and 2001: ICD 10 classification of conditions cited for abortions under Section 1(1)(d) of the Act.

20002001
Q00-Q89Congenital malformations
anencephalyQ0032
microcephalyQ0202
congenital hydrocephalusQ03174
other malformations of the brainQ04712
spina bifidaQ0587
cardiovascular systemQ20-Q28815
respiratory systemQ30-Q3403
cleft lip and cleft palateQ35-Q3701
other malformations of the digestive systemQ38-Q4530
urinary systemQ60-Q6484
musculoskeletal systemQ65-Q7946
otherQ82-Q8917
Q90-Q99Chromosomal abnormalities
Down's SyndromeQ90511
Edward's SyndromeQ91.359
Patau's SyndromeQ91.741
Not elsewhere classifiedQ92-Q9963
Other conditions
Fetus affected by maternal complicationsP01-P0410
Fetal disorders related to gestation and growthP05-P0887
Fetus affected by congenital infectious diseaseP35-P3921
Haemolytic disease of fetus and newbornP832-P83310
Hydrops fetalis not due to haemolytic diseaseP83.2-P83.325
Family history of inheritable disorderZ80-Z8410
Total94100

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14 May 2003 : Column WA41

Late abortions by gestation, residents only, by region, England, 2000 and 2001

Gestation in weeks
200024(1)>25262728over 28Total
Northern & Yorkshire14013413
Trent2010115
West Midlands1101126
North-West1001002
Eastern43221618
London88503933
South-East43520317
South-West1001013
Wales0100012
2001
Northern & Yorkshire35131418
Trent0400004
West Midlands1210127
North-West0000034
Eastern42102413
London126463436
South-East12031715
South-West3001015
Wales0001023

(1) Footnote

Figures are of abortions under Section 1(1)(d) performed at more than 24 weeks 0 days gestation.


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Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are taking steps to reduce the number of abortions in the United Kingdom.[HL2635]

Baroness Andrews: In England we are taking a number of steps through the Sexual Health and HIV Strategy and the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy, which should lead to a reduction in the number of abortions. We are working to improve access to contraceptive services and the range of methods of contraception that are available; for example, the National Institute for

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Clinical Excellence is preparing clinical guidelines for the National Health Service on the effective and appropriate use of long-acting reversible contraception. We are also working with the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to improve sex and relationships education (SRE). The DfES has issued guidance on SRE against which schools are required to develop their policies and the delivery of SRE is now covered within Ofsted inspections.

In November 2002 we launched the "Sex Lottery" campaign with an investment of £4 million over two years. The campaign is aimed at 18 to 30 year-olds, and promotes messages around safer sex and the use of

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condoms. Although the campaign focuses on the prevention of infection, condoms when used correctly are highly effective in preventing pregnancy.

Policy on sexual health including reducing unintended pregnancies is devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. The Abortion Act 1967, as amended, does not apply to Northern Ireland where it is not legal to carry out a therapeutic termination of pregnancy, other than to save the life of the mother or to prevent serious damage to her physical or mental health.

Bisphenol Exposure

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What account they have taken of recently published research conducted by Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, which found that exposure to bisphenol, a component of plastic bottles, could be linked to chromosomal abnormalities in unborn children and to miscarriages.[HL2700]

Baroness Andrews: The Government are keeping the safety of bisphenol-A under review. We are aware of this recently published study which put forward the hypothesis that a slight increase in abnormalities seen in the eggs of female mice might be attributed to bisphenol-A leaching from damaged mouse cages.

In 2001 the Committee on Toxicity considered reports of apparent low dose effects associated with bisphenol-A. It advised that given the uncertain significance of the effects it was not appropriate to use such findings as the basis of a human health risk assessment.

Further research has been commissioned to investigate the implications of low level exposure to bisphenol-A. Meanwhile, industry is being encouraged to reduce levels of bisphenol-A to the lowest level possible.

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