Almost 500 abortions for babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome were not included in Department of Health figures, the Government has admitted in a new report.
The report shows doctors have broken the law because under the Abortion Act an official form must be properly completed to say why the abortion was carried out, and then sent to the Chief Medical Officer.
Fiona Bruce MP said: “Worryingly, the department appears to have made no attempt to see that the law is properly enforced”.
The new report was compiled using figures from the National Down’s Syndrome Cytogenetic Register (NDSCR) – an organisation that is told each time a diagnosis is made at a hospital genetic testing laboratory.
The NDSCR then monitors each case until birth, or abortion, and it listed 994 abortions for Down’s in 2012.
However, the official Department of Health figures only listed 496 such abortions – leaving a discrepancy of 498.
Included in the NDSCR figures are eleven abortions after 24 weeks. Abortion in England and Wales is allowed up to birth in the case of disability.
Paul Danon, of the Pro-Life Alliance, commented: “We oppose abortion on any grounds, but are particularly shocked by the discrepancies revealed in this Department of Health analysis.”
Conservative MP Fiona Bruce also said: “Health ministers must act to restore public confidence in medical practitioners in this field.”
Director of the NDSCR, Professor Joan Morris, said: “It has been very frustrating that people could pick up the official figures from the Department of Health, yet we all knew they were so inaccurate and there was no extra guidance to anyone to point them to the correct data.”
A Department of Health spokesman noted that officials were now working with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to rectify the problem.
One mother, whose daughter has Down’s syndrome, told The Sunday Times about the pressure that some women face if they choose to have a baby who has been diagnosed with the genetic condition.
“Their maternity care changes and I have met women who were told at every scan that a termination could be arranged”, Hayley Goleniowska said.