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Volume 495: debated on Monday 29 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many abortions were performed under the Abortion Act 1967, as amended by section 37 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, where the unborn child had a cleft (a) palate and (b) lip, broken down by (i) grounds for abortion, (ii) length of gestation and (iii) health authority in 2008. (282222)

There were less than 10 abortions in 2008 with a cleft lip and palate. Data cannot be broken down by gestation or health authority for confidentiality reasons in line with the Office for National Statistics' guidance on the disclosure of abortion statistics (2005). All abortions were performed under Section l(l)(d) of the Abortion Act 1967, that there is substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

For years 2006, 2007 and 2008, some of the principal medical conditions for abortions performed under Section l(l)(d) were suppressed as the totals for each single year were too small to release. In the three years 2006-08, there were also less than 10 cases with a principal medical condition of the congenital malformation cleft lip and/or cleft palate.