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News1991June › Abortion by decree › June 1991

Abortion by decree

Doctors helping to deliver a handicapped baby might now be breaking the law

Doctors helping to deliver a handicapped baby might now be breaking the law.

According to the new Human Fertilization and Embryology Act, the l967 Abortion Act is amended to permit termination of pregnancy on several grounds, including if "there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped."

At least two Worcester Royal Infirmary doctors have pointed out that the law now means that a doctor needs the explicit consent of the women to save her baby during delivery if there is a risk of serious handicap. "If she withholds it or cannot give it then the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act permits the doctor to destroy the child indeed if the doctor does not, it is conceivable that the parents(s) could bring an action for negligence,"say doctors Cole and Duddington in The Lancet.


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