HC Deb 09 March 1970 vol 797 cc897-9
15. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will state the relative resources of medical, surgical and other skilled staff devoted to abortions, within and without the National Health Service; what is the approximate division of resources between the two sectors for abortions, respectively state and private; and what part of each is concerned with alien females undergoing abortions in this country.

Mr. Crossman

I regret that information about staff employed on this work is not available but about 62 per cent. of all abortions notified in 1969 in England and Wales were carried out in National Health Service hospitals and 38 per cent. in approved places. Abortions notified in respect of women resident outside the United Kingdom were about 10 per cent. of the total and about 98 per cent. of these were performed in approved places.

Sir G. Nabarro

Has the right hon. Gentleman studied the weekend reports and notably the statement by the regius professor of midwifery at the University of Glasgow who said that 15 deaths occurred last year due to abortions and that we can look forward—using his words—to an increasing number of deaths on that account? Is he aware that he called for an end to the racket in abortions? What is the right hon. Gentleman doing to meet the views of the experts—not my views, but their views—in this field?

Mr. Crossman

I would respectfully point out that that is a totally different question from the Question which the hon. Gentleman put on the Order Paper. I am nevertheless prepared to answer it in relation to his initial Question. He is right in the number of deaths which he quoted, but he must remember that there has been a great increase in the number of abortions performed and that 20,000 illegitimate children would be alive today—with all the consequences of that—if it were not for the Act.

Mrs. Renée Short

Will my right hon. Friend bear in the mind the cost to the National Health Service of maternity cases compared with the cost of terminations? Will he also bear in mind that most of us are delighted that an increasing number of terminations are being carried out in good conditions in National Health Service hospitals? Will he further bear in mind that before the Act was introduced there were 50 deaths from illegal abortions every year?

Mr. Crossman

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for all those three points, which are highly relevant to this controversy. I have no doubt whatever that the result of the Act as it is at present being administered is socially beneficial, and I am surprised that the hon. Member cannot see that fact.