The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists today released two reports: Fetal Awareness and Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Abnormality. These update reports published in 1997 and 1996, respectively, following the recommendation of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee in 2008.
The reports in effect reinforce the status quo of a 24 week upper limit and refuse to provide guidance as to what constitutes severe disability which is a legal ground for abortion up till birth. This is an extremely important consideration considering the uproar caused a few years ago by the reporting of an abortion after 24 weeks for cleft palate.
A spokesperson for the ProLife Alliance said:
“This is a nakedly political attempt by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to defend the status quo against any potential attacks in Parliament. The Prime Minister has openly backed a reduction to 20 weeks and this is supported by an overwhelming majority of the British population. The RCOG are trying to stop abortion reform and will ignore the opposing side of the argument to suit their purposes. We would not be surprised if these reports get short shrift from international experts, such as Professor Sunny Anand, the world’s leading expert in the field who was not even consulted.”
Professor Sunny Anand, Professor of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology, Pharmacology, and Neurobiology at the University of Arkansas College of Medicine, has said in the past:
“Very likely most fetuses at 20 weeks after conception will be able to perceive abortion as painful, unpleasant, noxious stimulation.”
The US state of Nebraska passed a law in Aril this year banning abortions after 20 weeks on the grounds of fetal pain.
NOTE TO EDITORS
Fetal Awareness can be found here: http://www.rcog.org.uk/files/rcog-corp/RCOGFetalAwarenessWPR0610.pdf
Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Abnormality can be found here: http://www.rcog.org.uk/files/rcog-corp/TerminationPregnancyReport18May2010.pdf
Expert opinion on fetal pain can be viewed here: http://www.doctorsonfetalpain.com/
The Nebraska Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act can be viewed here: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/Current/PDF/Slip/LB1103.pdf
The Daily Mail and The Sunday Times both quoted the ProLife Alliance’s reaction to the reports.