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Sir Brian Souter’s lack of compassion for families who receive a diagnosis of fetal anomaly is shameful

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14 February 2023

Katherine O'Brien, spokesperson for BPAS, said: 

“Mr Souter’s statement that at 39 weeks gestation, a woman could legally end a pregnancy due to a “hare lip” is simply untrue. Under Ground E of the 1967 Abortion Act, a termination can only be performed post-24 weeks if two doctors believe that there is a “substantial risk” of severe fetal anomaly. Abortions performed in these very limited circumstances are the result of extensive medical tests, painful diagnoses, and heartbreaking conversations. Aside from Mr Suter’s ignorance regarding the abortion law, in suggesting that women would want to end pregnancies days before their due date because of minor conditions, he also displays a fundamental misunderstanding of women and their relationship with their pregnancies and their babies.

Every year, a very small number of women make the incredibly difficult decision to end very much wanted pregnancies following the diagnosis of a serious fetal anomaly. This incredibly small group represents women and their partners who are dealing with the most desperate and tragic of circumstances. Women's reasons for terminating a pregnancy on grounds of fetal anomaly include the effect on a woman's ability to care for her existing children; the feeling that it is cruel to have a child who will need constant medical intervention and may live in pain; or being unable to cope with continuing a pregnancy when they know that their baby will die shortly after birth.

Mr Souter’s lack of compassion for these families is shameful.”



For further information, please contact Katherine O’Brien, BPAS Associate Director of Campaigns and Communications, on katherine.o’brien@bpas.org or 07881 265276.

About BPAS

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, BPAS, is a charity that sees over 100,000 women a year for reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception at clinics across Great Britain.

BPAS exists to further women’s reproductive choices. We believe all women should have the right to make their own decisions in and around pregnancy, from the contraception they use to avoid pregnancy right the way through to how they decide to feed their newborn baby, with access to evidence-based information to underpin their choices and high-quality services and support to exercise them. 

BPAS also runs the Centre for Reproductive Research and Communication, CRRC. Through rigorous multidisciplinary research and impactful communication, the CRRC aims to inform policy, practice, and public discourse. You can find out more here.