Statistics Regarding Babies Surviving Abortions

Note: This page is part of a subsection of our posters on abortion up to 6 months, as it exists in the government's proposed legislation. Click here to read more.

In general the statistics suggest that late-term abortion, 22+ weeks, tends to only fail where feticide is not committed prior to inducing labour.

In cases in which foeticide was properly utilised, usually through an injection to the heart, I could find no statistics highlighting survival.

The chance of an infant surviving induced labour prior to 22 weeks is minuscule, although abortifacients that do not induce labour may fail. Prior to 20 weeks abortions can fail, but only particular types of abortion are likely to fail; anything that removes the foetus from the womb will succeed, barring either a complete failure on the part of the abortionist or a situation which the mother is unknowingly carrying twins.

Pan European Research

Late termination of pregnancy: a comparison of obstetricians ‘experience in eight European countries.

Study covered 1530 obstetricians across Italy, Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the UK, and Sweden.

The French practice active euthanasia [80% of respondents] following a live birth, which is to say they will actively step in after a live birth and end that life. The only other country that reported active euthanasia of live births was the Netherlands [26% of respondents].

About half of respondents have encountered the situation of a life birth following a termination.

Only about half of respondents had explored the possibility of a live birth with women prior to a termination.

Source: Late termination of pregnancy: a comparisonof obstetricians’ experience in eight Europeancountries


Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Abnormality in England, Scotland and Wales

Live birth following termination of pregnancy before 21+ weeks of gestation is very uncommon. Nevertheless, women and their partners should be counselled about this unlikely possibility and staff should be trained to deal with this eventuality (section 8).

Live birth becomes increasingly common after 22 weeks of gestation and, when a decision has been reached to terminate the pregnancy for a fetal abnormality after 21+6 weeks, feticide should be routinely offered. Where the fetal abnormality is not compatible with survival, termination of pregnancy without prior feticide may be preferred by some women. In such cases, the delivery management should be discussed and planned with the parents and all health professionals involved and a written care plan agreed before the termination takes place (section 8).

Where the foetal abnormality is not lethal and termination of pregnancy is being undertaken after 21+6 weeks of gestation, failure to perform foeticide could result in live birth and survival, an outcome that contradicts the intention of the abortion. In such situations, the child should receive the neonatal support and intensive care that is in the child’s best interest and its condition managed within published guidance for neonatal practice. A fetus born alive with abnormalities incompatible with life should be managed to maintain comfort and dignity during terminal care (section 8).

Risks of termination increase with gestational age, particularly with medical termination; complication rates (haemorrhage, uterine perforation and/or sepsis up to the time of discharge from the place of termination) increase from 5/1000 medical procedures at 10–12 weeks to 16/1000 at 20 weeks of gestation and over.

Wyldes and Tonks reported data on livebirth rates in terminations for fetal abnormality in the West Midlands between the years 1995 and 2004.34 Overall, 102 of the 3189 (3.2%) fetuses were born alive, of which 36% survived 1 hour or less and 6% for 6 or more hours. Livebirth rates between 20 and 23 weeks of gestation are shown in Table 7. The number and proportion of live births at or over 22 weeks decreased over the period of study from 10% to 16% in 1995–1997 to 2% in 2004. No such decline was seen in cases less than 22 weeks. The proportion of live births at 20–21 weeks did not vary with type of fetal abnormality (5% for chromosomal abnormality, 3% for multiple structural abnormalities, 4% for renal abnormalities and 7% for cardiac abnormalities.)

Source: Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Abnormality in England, Scotland & Wales –Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists