London, England, United Kingdom (AHN) – Data released by Britain’s Department of Health showed that from 2002 through 2010, almost 18,000 abortions were performed in the country due to substantial risks to the baby being seriously handicapped or deformed.
Of this number, 26 were fetuses with cleft lips and cleft palate problems. Another 27 fetuses with congenital malformation of the ear, eye, face or neck were also aborted during the same period. One abortion, performed in 2003, involved a fetus that was more than 24 weeks old, which is beyond the legal limit for terminating pregnancies.
The department was forced to share the eight-years of data with ProLife Alliance, an anti-abortion group, which in turn disclosed parts of the statistics to media on Monday. British High Court Justice Sir Ross Cranston ruled in April that the Information Tribunal was correct in its 2009 decision that the Health Department should release the data.
The department opposed the release because of the risk of identifying the identities of women who had Ground E abortions if the data were pieced together with other information in the public domain. However, Cranston said it was an extremely remote risk.
Ground E abortions compose about one percent of the 200,000 abortions made in England and Wales yearly.
Prolife groups hailed the court victory because the data gave the unborn disabled a voice.
Rev. Joanna Jepson, a rector of the Church of England Rector who was born with an overhanging jaw, expressed shock at the abortion of fetuses with cleft lips or palates, because it is a condition that could be corrected surgically.
In 2011, Jepson challenged the legality of aborting a 28-week fetus with cleft palate, which led to the naming in the Internet of the medical consultant who performed the procedure. In turn, it led the Department of Health to stop releasing detailed abortion statistics because it compromised the identity of patients and doctors
ProLife challenged the DOH decision in 2005 and the six-year court case ended in April in favor of the former.