More British women aborting babies with minor disablities

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London, Oct 22 (UNI) Women in south-west Britain aborted more than 100 babies with minor disabilities between 2002 and 2005, statistics revealed.

The data recorded that 54 babies with club feet, 37 with cleft palates or lips, and 26 with extra or webbed fingers or toes were aborted in the region during the period.

The figures, provided by the South West Congenital Anomaly Register, have heightened concerns over the number of babies aborted in the English country due to minor defects which could be corrected with simple surgery.

One of the most common birth defects in Britain Club feet affects around 700 children every year.

It results in the feet pointing downwards and inwards, but it can be corrected without surgery using splints, plaster casts and boots.

Despite improvements in treatment, the data suggested there remained a perception among some parents and doctors that club feet was a serious birth defect.

Britain's Abortion Act allows termination of pregnancy at any stage if two doctors agree there is a ''substantial risk'' of the child being ''serious handicapped''.

But the scope of the term is left to the doctor's discretion and some fear the definition of ''handicap'' is widening as scanning technology develops.

In a similar case of abortion in 2003, a cleric instigated a legal challenge against the refusal of police to prosecute doctors who carried out a late abortion on woman because she did not want a baby with a cleft palate, the Telegraph reported.

The abortion was carried out when the woman, who was from Herefordshire, was more than 24 weeks pregnant.

Reacting to the practice, the Curate of St Michael's Church in Chester Reverend Joanna Jepson said she had corrective surgery on a congenital jaw defect and added that a cleft palate was not a ''serious handicap.'' UNI XC SS KN1350

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