By GWYNETH REES and DUNCAN ROBERTSON
Survival: Official Government figures have revealed that hundreds of children are surviving after being born within the legal abortion time limit
Data from the Department of Health shows that 909 children were born between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy during 2005.
Of those, 250 survived for at least a year.
The current time limit of 24 weeks was decided by Parliament in 1990 and the upcoming Human and Fertilisation and Embryology Bill will be the first time MPs will have been given a vote on the issue since then.
Although they are not usually allowed beyond 24 weeks, abortions are permitted up until birth if tests show the baby is likely to be born with a “serious disability”.
However, because there is no medical definition of “serious”, there have been incidences where babies have been aborted for a club foot or cleft palate.
In 2006, there were 201,173 abortions in England and Wales…
MPs of all parties are given a free vote – rather than being told how to vote by their party leaders – on what is seen as a conscience issue. It is thought that the result is likely to be close – with many MPs opting to keep the 24 week limit and others calling for a 20 week constraint.
The debate to lower the limit also follows the release of 3D images showing foetuses apparently ‘walking in the womb’ at 12 weeks.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has already signalled he will vote to keep the 24 week limit but opposition leader David Cameron has said he will vote for a 20 week limit.
The data, for births in England and Wales, showed that eight out of the 152 children born at 22 weeks’ gestation lived for a year or more.
At 23 weeks, 44 of 283 children survived while at 24 weeks, almost half – 198 of 474 – of babies survived.
They [pro-life] claim abortion is increasingly being treated as a method of contraception by many young women.
They point out that one in ten women in their late twenties to early thirties has had an abortion, while around 100 teenage girls each month are having their second termination.