A Freedom of Information survey was circulated to every NHS Trust in England in January 2023 which provides maternity services to ascertain their practice with regards providing pain relief during the foeticide process (also known as a late term abortion, performed beyond 21 weeks and 6 days of gestation).
By April 2023, 116 Trusts had responded. The data from the NHS Trusts which perform foeticide found that 76% of them either are currently or are willing to administer direct foetal painkiller or sedative. 14% of Trusts do not provide direct foetal painkiller or sedative or would not confirm if they would consider foetal painkiller if requested by the mother.
Of the 76%, it was found that 49% of NHS Trusts are currently providing foetal pain relief as part of the abortion process, with a further 26% would only consider this is requested by the mother.
This new data reveals the reality that three-quarters of NHS Trusts in England are either already providing foetal pain relief or at least acknowledge the reality that the unborn child can experience pain.
From the published figures in Ireland in 2022 which showed that 88 babies were aborted on the grounds of a condition “likely to lead to death of foetus”, it is unlikely these children received any foetal painkiller. This new data from England underlines the need for Ireland to swiftly adopt precautionary pain relief for unborn children in late-term abortions, as a small gesture of humanity.