The ProLife Alliance is appalled that the Department of Health has chosen to appeal against the ruling of the Information Tribunal to disclose abortion statistics to the ProLife Alliance.
‘We have been asking since 2005 for full statistics regarding abortions for disability,’ said a spokesperson for the ProLife Alliance. ‘It is a reprehensible waste of public money and court time to continue a fruitless battle to hide this information. A country, committed to transparency and openness, accepts and expects that the same principles apply to abortion as to other areas of healthcare practice. These statistics should be made public.
‘We have never wished to identify either the women or the doctors involved, simply asked for accurate details regarding the numbers and nature of abortions under Ground E of the Abortion Act.
‘The ProLife Alliance, opposed to all abortion as a matter of principle, is adamant that details of this terrible loss of human life must be presented accurately to the public so that they can themselves judge whether the Abortion Act of 1967 is being implemented as originally intended. Currently compliance is almost impossible to assess and the Tribunal Judgment itself suggests there are grave inadequacies in this area.
‘In fact, a significant portion of the Judgment addresses this very concern. During the hearing the Judges questioned what mechanisms were in place to ensure compliance with the Act and noted the inadequacy of controls in the existing practice. In their own words the only scrutiny described by the DOH ‘amounted to self regulation with no audit, spot checks, outside opinions or quality control of the basis for the terminations. Para.81’ Decisions ‘were not scrutinized clinically or substantively.’ Para.82’
‘There have been 7 million abortions performed in the United Kingdom since the liberalisation of abortion in 1967, most funded at considerable cost to the public purse. For that reason alone full statistical information should be made available, as well as rigorous scrutiny and audit.
‘A further grave concern has come to light during this freedom of information odyssey, which calls into question the whole nature of recording abortions for disability. The ProLife Alliance has discovered, ironically, that the totals published by the Department of Health for such abortions are so grossly inaccurate as to be of little value either for our campaign purposes or for healthcare analysis in general.
‘Just looking at terminations for Down Syndrome alone we compared DoH figures with another anomaly register in the United Kingdom (The National Down syndrome Cytogenetic Register), and discovered that over a 10 year period (1995-2006) there were nearly twice as many Downs Syndrome abortions recorded by the latter (6790) as appear in the official DoH statistics (3742). The figures for Edwards and Patau Syndrome show even greater discordance. If there are such discrepancies in the recording of abortions forgenetic disability, what value can be attributed to the abortions statistics overall?