In a shocking revelation, a recent survey by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) indicates that there are at least 50 cases a year nationwide in which babies survive abortion attempts.
The systematic investigation by CEMACH, which monitors pregnancy deaths on behalf of Britain's six royal colleges of medicine, comes amid growing discomfort among clinicians over a legal ambiguity that could incriminate them with infanticide.
According to the guidelines by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, babies aborted after more than 21 weeks and six days of gestation should have their hearts stopped by an injection of potassium chloride before being delivered. However, in practice, most doctors are reluctant to go through the norms, and very few are able to perform the delicate procedure.
Also, for younger fetuses, the procedure is to induce labor by drugs in anticipation that the infant will not be able to endure the birth process, ensuring that the babies are not alive at birth. In practice, a number of infants survive this process.
Babies that survive the procedure are entitled to medical care. However, anti-abortion campaigners assert that at times they are simply left to die.
Currently, abortion on demand is permissible in Britain up to 24 weeks of gestation, which is more than halfway through a normal pregnancy and the highest legal limit for such terminations in Europe. France and Germany permit social abortions only up to the 10th and 12th weeks respectively.
The shocking disclosure has triggered demands for the time limit for terminations to be cut.
Britain's leading obstetricians accuse the doctors who carried out botched abortions of 'sub-standard' medicine.