At least 50 babies a year survive National Health abortions in the UK, according to new medical study, the Sunday Times reported yesterday. The research by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health, has now prompted a government enquiry. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) is also launching an investigation. At present the RCOG recommend that babies aborted after more than 21 weeks and six days should have their hearts stopped by a lethal injection before being delivered. In practice, few doctors are willing or able to carry out this procedure and a few survive. Even some younger babies, aborted through induced labour, are being born alive. Dr Stuart Campbell, former professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George's Hospital said: "They can be born breathing and crying and 19 weeks." The number of abortions carried out in the 18th week of pregnancy or later has increased from 5,166 in 1994 to 7,432 last year. Prenatal diagnosis of conditions such as Down's Syndrome is increasing and abortions are routinely carried out in such cases - even though many might be capable of leading fulfilling lives. In the past decade doctors' skill in saving the lives of premature babies has improved radically. At least 70-80 per cent of babies born in the 23rd or 24th week survive long-term. Abortion on demand is allowed in Britain up to 24 weeks - the highest time limit in Europe. Germany and France allow 'social' abortions only up to ten and 12 weeks respectively. The issue will be brought dramatically into focus on Tuesday 6 December when a 28 year-old woman, Gianna Jessen, who survived an attempt to abort her, will be speaking at a meeting in parliament from 6.30 to 8.30pm. Gianna is a professional musician now, but the operation left her with cerebral palsy. She is planning to run in the London marathon to raise money for a cerebral palsy charity. The talk is organised by the Alive & Kicking campaign who are calling for a reduction in the abortion limit to 18 weeks. For more information see: www.aliveandkickingcampaign.org Student Lifenet are planning to attend. Contact Patrick Leahy on: email@example.com or visit: www.studentlifenet.co.uk for more information about them Source: Student Lifenet /Sunday Times/BBC
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