Past reports suggested there were probably only a handful of cases each year. But the new findings reveal there have been 31 cases in the North-West alone between 1996 and 2001.
The study, published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, revealed that some of the babies who initially survived terminations were only in the 18th week of pregnancy and more than half were under 22 weeks.
In the 31 cases they studied, babies lived for between five minutes and four hours 36 minutes after the termination.
No information was given about what care, if any, these babies were given.
Dr. Trevor Stammers, senior lecturer in general practice at St. George's University Hospital in London, said the latest research was "deeply distressing."
"I know of obstetricians who have been doing abortions for many years who have broken down saying they cannot carry on any more," he said.
"Despite all attempts at emotional neutrality, the heart does not work that way when you get a baby in front of you that colleagues on another floor of the same building would be trying to keep alive. For the parents it must be extremely upsetting, as it is for the doctors."
I bet it's even more distressing for the baby. But then, in an abortion nobody really cares what the baby's going through.