Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st February 1989.

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Photo of Ann Winterton Ann Winterton , Congleton 12:00 am, 21st February 1989

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many abortions at 18 weeks and over were carried out in 1987 in clinics run by charities; and if he will distinguish between United Kingdom residents and non-residents.

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

Two thousand seven hundred and twenty eight in charitable, as opposed to non-charitable private clinics. Of these, 2,214 were performed on women resident in the United Kingdom and 514 on non-resident women.

Photo of Ann Winterton Ann Winterton , Congleton

When will my hon. Friend implement the recommendations of the 1973 Select Committee on abortion, which proposed that links between doctors and agencies referring women for abortions and the clinics in which they were carried out should be broken and that there should be after-care and follow-up facilities for women who come to this country from abroad for abortions?

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

We have these matters under consideration, but I can tell my hon. Friend that the majority of abortions performed in 1987 on women after a gestation period greater than 18 weeks were in private clinics. The proportion of non-resident women was just under one half and that proportion has fallen by about one half since 1983.

Photo of Mr Ronnie Fearn Mr Ronnie Fearn , Southport

Is the Minister aware that the 60 per cent. of abortions carried out in private clinics bring in £2 million to the private doctors concerned? Does he not think that those doctors should be defenders of life not destroyers?

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

The private clinics and the doctors who work in them have an important role to play in the health care of the nation. Whether the abortions performed in those clinics or in NHS clinics are ethically correct is a matter for the hon. Gentleman's conscience and for mine.