RCOG blatantly endorses status quo of UK Abortion Law in Government commissioned reports
Two reports, commissioned by the Government in relationship to abortion were published last week by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) on ‘Fetal Awareness’ and ‘Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Abnormality’ (*).
CORE works with many colleagues nationally and internationally with practical expertise in the various fields of pre-natal and neo-natal science, and their first reactions have been extremely critical of the dogmatic position taken by the RCOG on the issue of fetal pain.
One commented on the absolute absurdity of drawing a 24-week line in the sand, before which it is claimed that the fetus has no conscious awareness or ability to feel pain. Does pain kick in at midnight at 23 weeks and 7 days? How does one accurately determine 24 weeks anyway was another pertinent question from the international experts.
‘Such an arbitrary time limit is absurd,’ said an Italian neonatal consultant, Prof Carlo Bellieni. ‘The variables associated with human gestation are innumerable, and even the best estimates on age can be out by as many as 11 days.’ A British consultant remarked that two babies of relatively similar gestational age could have completely different physical capacities anyway.
Huge surprise was expressed that Professor Sunny Anand, world specialist on fetal pain, was not consulted in the preparation of these reports. Professor Anand spoke in the UK Parliament last year on his research in this field and his expertise is widely acknowledged.
A much lower pain threshold, around 18-20 weeks, would be the consensus of those CORE questioned on the issue, and most of those consulted agreed that we still have much to learn in this field.
‘I don’t think the RCOG statistics on survival rates in premature births stand up to broader scrutiny,’ said another Italian specialist. ‘I know for certain that both the US and Italy are doing better than the UK in this area. In Italian law rather than establish an arbitrary time limit our abortion law focuses on viability, which can vary quite considerably.’
An abortion took place in an Italian hospital last month at 22 weeks gestation. The body of the little boy was left in a side room over the weekend and a priest discovered he was still alive 24 hours after the termination had taken place, even though he had received no medical support whatsoever.
A quick glance at the membership of both RCOG committees shows names of many well-known pro-abortion advocates, but few who are recognisably conservative on these issues. Surely some overtly pro-life doctors could have been included to give at least a token voice to the rights of the unborn child.
It is extraordinary that the name of London-based Prof Stuart Campbell, (not part of the pro-life movement) does not appear either among those on the committee or in the lists of those consulted. As a pioneer and international expert in the field of ultrasonographic fetal diagnosis, his expertise should surely have been considered indispensable.
Why such inadequate and questionable reports, you ask? We leave the answer to Prof Bellieni, who declared the moment he read them, ‘Abortion up to 24 weeks in normal circumstances, and up to birth for abnormality, and leave it to the doctor and the patient to decide if the abnormality justifies the termination? How incredibly convenient that these two reports totally and completely reinforce the status quo on abortion in the United Kingdom.’
The executive summary in the 2nd report on termination of pregnancy for disability claims not to ‘purport to give ethical guidance’. This for CORE was the most chilling statement in both publications.
The termination of the life of a disabled unborn child is surely above all an ethical issue, not how or at what gestation it is performed. Neither pain levels nor consciousness nor quality or length of life define what it is to be human. Induced abortion for whatever reason and at whatever stage of gestation is always the destruction of a human life.