Aborting the disabled
An alliance of pro-life campaigners and religious groups has written an open letter in a new push to restrict the 1967 Abortion Act.
The letter was written to the Daily Telegraph and signed by leading figures from such groups as Life and the Pro-Life Alliance, as well as Catholic bishops in Scotland and some evangelical Christian groups, such as Care and Christian Concern.
Citing the success of this summer’s London Paralympics, the letter argues that the current law is discriminating against disability and that terminations solely on the grounds of disability should not be allowed.
The letter argues that the success of athletes competing in the Paralympics has meant we need to ‘rethink what we mean by disabled and able’.
It also mentions how much we do as a society to help and care for disabled people, giving the examples of ramps, toilets and job quotas.
This is in contrast to the fact that scientists are devising what the letter called ‘ever more efficient methods of detecting and killing disabled human beings before birth’.
Statistics show that more than 500 abortions took place in 2011 after screening for Down’s syndrome. The campaigners describe this as eugenics (improving society by controlled human breeding).
Professor Jack Scarisbrick, founder of the anti-abortion group Life, said that the group is hoping to mobilise pro-life MPs to bring a private members’ bill to the Commons to amend the 1967 Act.
He said, ‘We are hopeful that now we can make a move from a new direction, so that rather than focusing on weeks and grounds for abortion, we can tackle this particular aspect, which we believe we can win’.
The newly appointed Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has said that he supports reducing the legal limit for abortion from 24 weeks to 12 weeks.
His comments, which appeared on the front page of The Times, sparked a huge debate as the minister claimed his reasons for reducing the limit were not because of his Christian beliefs, but based on medical advances and statistics.
He pointed to statistics which showed more than 90 per cent of all abortions took place within the first few weeks of pregnancy, rather than at 21 weeks.
Quoted in The Times, Mr Hunt said, ‘Everyone looks at the evidence and comes to a view about when they think that moment is, and my own view is that 12 weeks is the right point for it’.
His comments were met with criticism from women’s groups and charities, which suggested that he had delivered a blow to women’s rights. However, quoted on the BBC in response to Mr Hunt’s comments, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said, ‘I think there is scope for some reduction. My own view is probably reduction to 20 weeks’.
According to a statement from Christian Concern, Maria Miller, the new Culture Secretary, had indicated that she favoured a reduction to 20 weeks. In response, Christian Concern has called on its supporters to write to each of these MPs to thank them for their public stance.