British Government Sues Itself to Hide Number of Abortions on Disabled Babies

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 16, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Government Sues Itself to Hide Number of Abortions on Disabled Babies

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 16
, 2009

London, England ( — In a bizarre move that will cost British taxpayers thousands of dollars, the government has sued itself in order to hide the number of abortions done on babies with very mild physical disabilities. The pro-life movement in England has been trying to force the government to reveal the number of those abortions.

Last month, the Information Tribunal issued a landmark Freedom of Information Act ruling upholding a previous ruling by the Information Commissioner in favor of the Pro-Life Alliance’s bid to disclose the abortion figures.

Now, the Department of Health is taking the Information Tribunal to court in an attempt to prevent the publication of stats on babies who are aborted, such as those who merely have a cleft palate.

Julia Millington of the Pro-Life Alliance told the London Telegraph last week, "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," she said.

A health department representative told the newspaper, "Data on abortions is considered to be sensitive personal data. Releasing such data potentially increases the risk of identifying individuals," even though no abortion statistics contain any information about the people who have them.

"Having considered the implications, the Department has decided to appeal the Information Tribunal’s judgment," the spokesman said.

The Government stopped publishing full figures in 2005 and it no longer publishes the total number of abortions in cases that account for less than 10 total abortions.

The Telegraph indicates the last year for which data is available, 2002, shows six babies killed in abortions simply because they had malformed feet, and a sixth because of a cleft palate.

In 2000 and 2001, nine babies were victims of abortions because of a cleft lip and palate and two because of a cleft lip.

The battle began when two doctors did an abortion on a baby with a cleft palate and were not prosecuted for doing so.

The case was uncovered when pro-life advocates discerned it form official abortion records. Since then, the figures have been sketchy and it is not possible to determine if babies are being killed specifically because they have some sort of potentially minor disability.

The Information Tribunal, in its ruling, indicated it was satisfied that the personal information concerning the abortion would not be made public from statistics alone. It said the potential "is so remote that disclosure of the disputed information would not be unwarranted," calling it "very unlikely."

Abortion advocates came under fire for supporting the abortion merely because of the cleft palate, which can be corrected with minor surgery.

“It is very clear that in this particular issue there was a case of severe disability and the doctors were acting legally," Abortion Rights director Anne Quesney told the British press.

The police reopened an inquiry into the case following a judicial review sought by the Reverend Joanna Jepson, who grew up with the facial condition and has a brother with Down’s Syndrome. Jepson’s lawyers argued that the abortion could not be justified under Britain’s 1967 Abortion Act.

But Jim England, the chief crown prosecutor for West Mercia CPS, said the doctors involved had decided there was a “substantial risk" that the baby would be “seriously handicapped" if it were born.

The CPS concluded that there was “no offense committed in the circumstances of this case."

Related web sites:
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