HL Deb 19 February 1996 vol 569 cc61-2WA
Lord Braine of Wheatley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many abortions have been performed under the Abortion Act 1967 (as amended) from April 1968 to the latest available date; how many were performed (a) in an emergency to save the life of the mother and (b) in cases of rape; and what percentages of all abortions performed these numbers represent.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege):

The total number of legal abortions performed under the Abortion Act 1967 in England, Wales and Scotland, from 1968 to 1993 on residents and non-residents was 4,098,737. During this period, 156 abortions (0.004 per cent.) were performed in an emergency, certified as immediately necessary, to save the life of the mother. A further 39,517 abortions —0.96 per cent. of all legal abortions—were notified under the grounds that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman greater than if the pregnancy were terminated (statutory ground A). I regret that in my earlier answer on 23rd November 1995 at column WA 11, there were minor inaccuracies. The corrected figures arc as above.

For the year 1994 there were 178,254 legal abortions performed in England and Wales and Scotland, and one abortion was performed in an emergency to save the life of the mother. A further 153 abortions—0.09 per cent. of all legal abortions performed in that year were classified under statutory ground A1.

11994 data for Scotland arc provisional

As rape is not in itself a statutory ground for performing an abortion under the 1967 Act, and is not required to be specified on the notification form by the certifying doctor, the number of notifications of abortion associated with rape is not known. However, in some cases the information is volunteered arid arrangements have been made to code separately and analyse all notification forms which mention rape from 1987 in Great Britain. In that period there were 1,500,503 legal abortions; there was a mention of rape in 282 cases (0.02 per cent.).

Earlier but non-comparable, data relating to abortions performed in England and Wales were collected clerically and published for the years 1968–73 in Table 12 of the Registrar General's Statistical Review, Supplement on Abortion, a copy of which is available in the Library. For Scotland, unpublished data are available between 1983–1986. The reliability of these earlier data is uncertain.