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Government urged not to bring Down’s abortions into NI law

March 2020

Publicity shot from Don’t Screen Us Out
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More than 1,400 people with Down’s syndrome and their families have called on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson not to introduce abortions up to birth for Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland (NI).

A letter from 1,413 signatories has urged Mr Johnson to clarify that disability-selective abortion for Down’s syndrome will not be introduced to NI. Disability-selective abortion for the condition is currently not allowed in NI.

Dozens of families who signed the letter, co-ordinated by the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign, shared photos of their children with Down’s syndrome on social media to send a strong message to the UK government.

Westminster had released a consultation on proposed abortion regulations for NI. While it is not required to introduce abortion for Down’s syndrome to NI, it seems to have opted to introduce it in the proposed legal framework.

Given the availability of early non-invasive pre-natal screening tests, it will be possible to have a diagnosis for the syndrome, followed by an abortion within a certain timescale.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed 710 late-term abortions (between 20 weeks and birth) have taken place for Down’s syndrome in England and Wales over the last 10 years (2009-2018).

Abortion has been hitting global headlines. In January, Donald Trump became the first US President to speak at America’s annual March for Life, an event started in 1974. He said, ‘Together, we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life.’