HC Deb 24 July 1969 vol 787 cc484-5W
Mr. Adam Hunter

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he proposes to take following the recommendations of the jury at the fatal accident inquiry into the death of a baby at Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow.

Mr. Ross

The jury made two recommendations. The first was that in all cases where an infant of or approaching or about viable age or apparently or possibly viable is to be delivered by abortion, all facilities and resuscitatory measures applied in cases of ordinary births should be adopted. The second was that legislation should be introduced prohibiting abortion when the foetus is approaching or has reached the stage of viability.

I have consulted my right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate about the second recommendation, and he advises that a change of this kind would not, in fact, alter the law of Scotland. If the clinician has real reason to believe the child is viable he should not undertake an abortion, since the law requires him, I am further advised, to take all reasonable and proper steps to preserve the life of the child irrespective of the duration of the pregnancy. I therefore do not intend to introduce legislation on this subject.

As regards the jury's first recommendation, this deals essentially with clinical matters and I would not regard it as appropriate for me to advise clinicians on what precautions should be taken before the operation is undertaken in terms of the Act. I am however asking hospital authorities to draw the attention of all clinicians likely to undertake such operations to the facts of this case and to this recommendation of the jury so that they can consider the position in the light of that recommendation and of the advice which I have received and stated above as to the law of Scotland.

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