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Volume 124: debated on Monday 7 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list each licensed private clinic with the number of abortions performed in each in 1986.

For the list of approved places in England, I refer the hon. Member to my reply to him on 26 October, at columns 170–75. Information on the number of abortions performed in any individual approved place is not released, for reasons of maintaining confidentiality.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services on how many occasions in the past 10 years an abortion has been refused by a private clinic, licensed by his Department, on the grounds that it did not comply with the statutory grounds listed in the Abortion Act 1967.

Pregnancy advice bureaux are required to maintain registers which show, inter alia, whether or not women are referred for abortion. These registers, which are inspected by the Department's investigative officers in the course of their inspection visits, show that in some cases women do not proceed to abortion because the grounds of the Abortion Act are not satisfied. As there is no requirement for such cases to be notified, this information is not collected centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what information he has as to the grounds on which abortion is available (a) in France after 10 weeks, and (b) in Italy after 12 weeks.

I understand that the position is as follows:

  • (a) France — The law provides for abortion after 10 weeks if the continuing pregnancy will place the health of the woman in grave danger or if there is a strong probability that the child will suffer from a particularly serious condition recognised to be incurable.
  • (b) Italy—Italian law permits abortion after 90 days if her continuing pregnancy would endanger the woman's life or her physical or mental health, for example because of the risk of fetal abnormality.
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what information he has as to (a) the maximum number of weeks pregnancy within which an abortion may legally be performed, and (b) the grounds on which legal abortion is available, in (i) Austria, (ii) Bulgaria, (iii) Finland, (iv) the German Democratic Republic, (v) Hungary, (vi) Norway, (vii) Poland, (viii) Sweden, (ix) Switzerland, (x) Turkey, and (xi) Yugoslavia.


  • 1. Up to 12 weeks gestation the law allows abortion on demand, providing the woman first visits a medical counselling panel.
  • 2. After 12 weeks gestation abortion is allowed:
  • (i) if it is necessary to avert a grave danger of the pregnant woman's life or serious damage to her physical or mental health;
  • (ii) if there is a grave danger that the child's mental or physical health will be seriously damaged;
  • (iii) if the woman was a minor at the time of conception.
  • 3. There is no gestational age beyond which all abortions become illegal.
  • Bulgaria

    Abortion is allowed on demand up to 10 weeks gestation for married women with two or more living children, married women over 40 with one living child, unmarried women of any age and in the case of rape or incest.


    Abortion is allowed:

  • 1. Up to 12 weeks gestation when:
  • (i) domestic circumstances are such that caring for the child would be a great strain on the mother;
  • (ii) when conception takes place in certain specified circumstances, such as rape;
  • (iii) when either or both parents is unfit, through illness or otherwise to look after the child.
  • 2. Up to 20 weeks gestation when the mother was under 17 or over 40 at the time of conception or had already borne four children.
  • 3. Up to 24 weeks gestation where there are reasons to believe that the child will be feeble minded or physically unhealthy.
  • 4. At any gestational age when the continued pregnancy or childbirth would endanger the life or damage the health of the mother.
  • Hungary

  • 1. Abortion is legally available on demand up to 12 weeks gestation (or 18 weeks in the case of a single mother).
  • 2. Beyond this, individual cases are considered on their merits by a committee which normally includes the woman's GP. This committee takes into account the mother's health, marital status, number of children, previous abortions etc. 24 weeks is the latest gestational period normally considered by the committee but in exceptional cases a later abortion might he permitted.
  • Norway

    The law permits abortion:

  • 1. Up to 12 weeks gestation on demand.
  • 2. Up to 18 weeks on the following statutorily defined grounds:
  • (i) if the pregnancy, birth or care of the child may result in unreasonable strain upon the physical or mental health of the woman;
  • (ii) if the pregnancy, birth or care of the child may place the woman in a difficult life situation;
  • (iii) if there is a major risk that the child may suffer from a serious disease as a result of its genotype or disease or harmful influence during pregnancy;
  • (iv) if the woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape or incest;
  • (v) if the woman is severely mentally ill or mentally retarded.
  • 3. After 18 weeks abortion is only permitted to save the life of the mother or if the fetus when born will not be viable.
  • Poland

  • 1. The law allows abortion on demand up to 12 weeks gestation.
  • 2. At any genstational age after 12 weeks abortion is only permitted when the mother's health is at risk or when the fetus develops abnormally.
  • Sweden

  • 1. Abortion is allowed on demand up to 12 weeks gestation.
  • 2. Between 12 and 18 weeks abortion on demand is still available but must be preceded by a special investigation which includes counselling.
  • 3. After 18 weeks, special grounds must be shown and the permission of the Board of Health and Welfare is required. No abortions are permitted if there are grounds to suppose that the fetus is capable of surviving.
  • Switzerland

    Swiss law permits abortion at any gestational age if it is performed by a qualified doctor who has taken a second opinion and when no other means is available to remove a risk to the life or health of the mother. Decisions on whether or when to terminate pregnancies are taken by doctors and it is understood that interpretation of the legislation varies considerably from Canton to Canton.


  • 1. Turkish law allows abortion on demand up to 10 weeks gestation provided there are no grounds for concern for the mother's health.
  • 2. After 10 weeks gestation abortion is permissible if:
  • (i) the pregnancy represents or is expected to represent a threat to the mother's life;
  • (ii) the pregnancy is expected to produce disabilities in the baby to be born or in future generations.
  • Yugoslavia

  • 1. Yugoslav law allows abortion on demand up to 10 weeks gestation.
  • 2. Up to 20 weeks gestation abortion is allowed by permission of the Medical Commission.
  • 3. Exceptionally, if medical indications exist abortion may be allowed regardless of the length of gestation.