A government enquiry conducted in Great Britain in May 2014 has highlighted that doctors have infringed the law either by not declaring or falsifying the number of abortions carried out in conjunction with Down syndrome. Half of the aborted Down syndrome foetuses were not registered.
The Department of Health has published the results (EN) of its enquiry on its website. The facts came to light on comparing data between the Department of Health and the National Down’s Syndrome Cytogenic Register (NDSCR).
Many Down’s terminations are being wrongly recorded as “social abortions”, which make up the bulk of terminations in Britain. Other records are simply missing. According to the Abortion Act, any doctor who performs an abortion must complete the relevant form and forward it to the Chief Medical Officer within 14 days. A Department of Health spokesperson said, “Doctors have a legal duty to report all abortions including those due to foetal anomalies, to the Chief Medical Officer”.
The data for 2011 showed only 410 records for Down syndrome that could be matched by the Department of Health official records when, in fact, 937 Down syndrome terminations took place. In 2012, 496 are recorded against the 994 terminations carried out.
Under the Abortion Act, termination of a foetus with anomalies is legal right up to the point of delivery. Terminations are hugely controversial, especially in the case of Down syndrome “because, due to medical advances, children with Down Syndrome can now expect to live until their fifties or sixties”.
The Department of Health has announced that it is working with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to tighten the current system.