- Abortions of babies with a minor facial deformity have nearly tripled
- Official figures show the number has drastically risen in the past five years
- A growing number of terminations are carried out due ot a cleft palate
Abortions of babies with a minor facial deformity have nearly tripled in the past five years, official figures show.
A growing number of terminations are carried out due to a cleft palate or lip – a condition which causes a gap in the roof of the mouth, upper lip or both, but is usually easily fixed by surgery.
It is thought that increased access to tests that diagnose the condition in the womb are behind a rise in the number of parents choosing to end pregnancies.
But campaigners warn that abortions on such grounds are ‘unconscionable’ and claim that lives are being ended on the basis of appearance.
Tory MP Fiona Bruce, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, said: ‘It is deeply disturbing if these figures reflect a worrying trend in society to disproportionately value the physically perfect and beautiful.’
New government figures show 30 babies were aborted in the past three years because they had a cleft lip or palate.
Just four abortions were carried out for this reason in 2011 and in 2012. This figure jumped to nine in 2013, ten in 2014 and 11 last year, according to statistics released by the Department of Health.
Lord Alton, an independent crossbench peer, said of the figures: ‘Aborting a baby with a cleft palate should be unconscionable. For the law to allow this up to birth should be unthinkable.’
Church of England curate, the Reverend Joanna Jepson, who was born with a jaw deformity, said: ‘That this kind of discrimination is on the rise shows just how far we are from being the humane and tolerant society we claim to be.’
Ms Jepson rose to prominence by speaking out against abortions when babies have a cleft palate after a case in 2003 where a baby with one was terminated at 28 weeks. She called for the doctor responsible to be prosecuted.
A growing number of terminations are carried out due to a cleft palate or lip – a condition which causes a gap in the roof of the mouth, upper lip or both
Speaking about the latest figures, Ms Jepson said: ‘Abortion for cleft palate is an abuse of the Abortion Act.’
Clefts occur when separate areas of the face do not join together properly during development.
Celebrities who suffered from a cleft palate include Carmit Bachar, of girl band the Pussycat Dolls.