Late abortions under scrutiny at the Council of Europe

Publié le : 14 February 2014

 On 31 January, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, an organisation uniting 47 member states in a mission to "monitor the respect of these States vis-à-vis democracy, human rights and the legally constituted state", were faced with a question écrite sur le drame des avortements tardifs (written question on the drama surrounding late abortions).

Several countries were challenged in terms of their practices including the United Kingdom which authorises abortion up to 24 weeks, thereby exceeding the foetal viability threshold (22 weeks). Thus, every year in the United Kingdom, around 60 foetuses survive for a few minutes to a few hours after delayed abortion. They are then "left to die or are killed by the medical team when some of them would have lived with medical assistance". Similar situations occur in other countries such as Sweden and Italy.

The written question therefore asks the Committee of Ministers "to guarantee that foetuses who survive an abortion are not deprived of the medical care to which they are entitled (as living persons at birth), based on the European Convention of Human Rights". On this subject, in early January 2014, Norway banned abortion – including eugenic abortion – beyond the viability threshold whilst Spain is preparing to pass a law along these lines. The Committee of Ministers must provide a "detailed written response to this issue in the coming weeks".

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