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Volume 648: debated on Monday 12 May 2003

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Whether, where a live child's head slips out of its mother during a partial-birth abortion, to continue with the abortion would be to commit infanticide. [HL2636]

We are not aware of the procedure referred to as "partial-birth abortion" being used in Great Britain. It is the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist's (RCOG) belief that this method of abortion is never used as a primary or pro-active technique and is only ever likely to be performed in unforeseen circumstances in order to reduce maternal mortality or severe morbidityThe RCOG's evidence-based guideline

The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion (2000) sets out the recommended methods of abortion for each gestation which practitioners are expected to follow. For all abortions over 21-weeks gestation, the method chosen should ensure the foetus is born dead.

Whether, where a child is born alive during an abortion, to kill it or allow it to die would be to commit infanticide or murder. [HL2637]

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' guideline Termination of pregnancy for fetal abnormality in England, Wales and Scotland (1996) and letter Further issues relating to late abortion, fetal viability and registration of births and deaths (April 2001) state that for all terminations at gestational age of more than 21 weeks and six days (the threshold of viability), the method chosen should ensure that the foetus is born dead.