HC Deb 15 June 1992 vol 209 cc412-3W
141. Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will make a statement on the methods of disposal now being used at private abortion centres; if any recognised abortion centre is still using a macerator; whether she will establish an independent monitoring team to investigate private centres; and if she will make a statement:

(2) if she will make a statement on the way in which the remains of aborted unborn children are disposed of.

Mr. Sackville

Guidelines have been issued to the NHS and the private abortion sector making it clear that, subject to personal wishes, fetuses and fetal tissue from termination of pregnancy must be incinerated. This is the method now being used by all places approved under section 1(3) of the Abortion Act 1967. Compliance in the NHS is a matter for individual health authorities. The Department's medical, nursing and investigative officers make regular unannounced inspections of approved places and I see no need to change that arrangement.

147. Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many unborn children were aborted, during the last 12 months for which figures are available, at(a) 10 to 12 weeks, (b) 12 to 14 weeks, (c) 14 to 16 weeks, (d) 16 to 18 weeks, (e) 18 to 20 weeks, (f) 20 to 22 weeks and (g) 22 to 24 weeks gestation.

Mr. Sackville

The figures requested are not readily available in the form requested. The table shows the information that is readily available for England, Wales and Scotland:

Number of abortions by gestation weeks, England, Wales and Scotland. (1 October 1990–30 September 1991)
Gestation weeks Number of abortions
9-12 97,098
13-14 10,577
15-16 6,292
17-18 4,207
19-20 2,803
21-22 1,625
23-24 709

Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many unborn children with mental or physical handicaps were aborted after 24 weeks' gestation.

Mr. Sackville

Between 1 April and 30 September 1991, 31 abortions were performed in England, Wales and Scotland after 24 weeks' gestation under statutory ground E which statesthere is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped".

These are the most recent figures available since the changes to the Abortion Act 1967, as amended by section 37 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, came into effect on 1 April 1991.