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Late-term abortions increasing

Melbourne's Mercy Hospital clinical director for obstetric and maternity services has confirmed reports that more women are having late-term abortions in Victoria because of psychological distress and reluctance to give birth to babies with abnormalities.

The Age reports this morning that the number of late terminations attributed to psychosocial reasons rose from 60 in 2002 to 103 last year. Late terminations brought about because screening showed congenital abnormalities also rose, from 103 to 116.

Health Minister Bronwyn Pike has told the Victorian Department of Human Services to investigate the rise, and anecdotal evidence suggesting large numbers of people from interstate are coming here for the procedure.

Last month, the federal parliamentary secretary for health, Christopher Pyne, called for a ban on abortions after 21 weeks.

The termination figures, to be released today in a Victorian Government report, push up what has been described as an otherwise stable perinatal mortality rate, babies stillborn or who die in their first month.

The Mercy Hospital clinical director, Dr Bernadette White, said the perinatal mortality rates for healthy women are "good and reassuring", but the rise in late terminations is concerning.

"I'm not aware of anything that's happened that's made it more accessible," Dr White said. "If anything, you would have thought that late-term abortions had tightened up in the past few years." If a woman wanted an abortion for psychosocial reasons - when mental health was affected - it was better to have it sooner rather than later. There were greater risks to the mother if it was delayed.

Late-term abortions increasing (The Age 21/12/04)

Respect Life Office, Archdiocese of Melbourne
Life Office, Archdiocese of Sydney
Right to Life Australia | Abortion
Minister denies soaring abortion rate (The Age 10/11/04)
Many late-term abortions due to abnormalities, say doctors (The Australian 12/11/04)

Life Offices urge continued public debate on abortion (CathNews 12.11.04)

21 Dec 2004