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Foetus Viability

Volume 405: debated on Monday 12 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance he has issued on when a foetus becomes viable. [109690]

The Department of Health has not issued guidance on when a fetus becomes viable. However, the British Association of Perinatal Medicine has produced a framework for practice for the management of fetuses and newborn infants at the threshold of viability. Also, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has issued guidance on issues relating to late abortion, fetal viability and registration of births and deaths.The World Health Organisation has defined the perinatal period as commencing at 22 completed weeks of gestation. Infants born between 22 and 28 weeks gestation have been described as having threshold viability.