HL Deb 12 May 2003 vol 648 cc12-3WA
Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government

Whether they have undertaken any surveys among disabled people to ascertain their views on pre-natal screening programmes, eugenic abortion and pre-implementation genetic diagnosis. [HL2599]

Baroness Andrews

There have been no specific surveys among disabled people. However, the voluntary body Antenatal Results and Choices is represented on the United Kingdom National Screening Committee's (NSC) antenatal screening sub-group. The aims of the antenatal screening programme are to enable parents to make informed choices about the future of the pregnancy. The decision should be made when the best interests of the woman, her partner, the future baby and the family have all been considered.

Abortion is only legal in Great Britain subject to the Abortion Act 1967, as amended. Termination on the grounds of foetal abnormality is permitted where "there is substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped". The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guideline Termination of Pregnancy for foetal abnormality (1996) states that the woman, and her partner, need to be given enough information and time to help her understand the nature of the foetal abnormality and the probable outcome of the pregnancy in order that she can make an informed decision as to whether or not to proceed with the pregnancy.

The Human Genetics Commission has stressed the importance of balanced information for parents in their work with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) on pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and will be working with the NSC to ensure that this work informs plans to implement national antenatal screening programmes. Representatives from disability groups were included on the recent HFEA working group on pre-implantation genetic diagnoses.

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