International

Abortions for correctable cleft lip and palate skyrocket in England and Wales

cleft lip, cleft palate, abortion

People with disabilities continue to face astounding levels of discrimination in the United Kingdom, but nowhere is it worse than in the womb. Abortion is illegal after 24 weeks — unless the child has a disability, even one as minor as a cleft lip or palate. And abortions for those reasons have been precipitously rising.

Parliament recently released a report detailing the number of abortions committed where a cleft lip or palate were listed as a reason. In 2011, 10 were reported; in 2018, there were 25. While those are seemingly small numbers, those are only the ones which the government knows about, and they’re almost certainly higher. And as it is, that still indicates a 150% increase of people aborting their children based solely on a minor abnormality.

 

Cleft lips and palates are easily repaired with surgery and, as the NHS itself notes, children who receive treatment grow up to have completely normal lives. Yet even for such a relatively minor condition, late-term abortion is permitted in the United Kingdom, at a time in their development, according to the newest research, that these preborn babies can almost surely feel pain.

This kind of cruelty is currently likely to begin taking place in Northern Ireland as well, unless the Northern Irish government convenes before October and moves against the law legalizing abortion there. Like in Britain, babies with cleft lips and palates will legally be able to be aborted after reaching the age of viability, simply because they have a treatable condition.

READ: Northern Ireland mothers speak out against law allowing abortion for cleft lip

This kind of rampant ableism is not limited to just abortion. People with disabilities face widespread discrimination in the United Kingdom. People with disabilities are told they should not have been born, that they should not have children, and are pressured to get abortions. Britons with disabilities face regular abuse and bullying, and authorities are known to ignore crimes against them when they come forward. Others say their family members with disabilities receive substandard health care, leading to death, specifically because of the disability. Two of the most notorious examples of disability bias in medicine are those of Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard, cruelly killed by the British government and health care system because both were severely disabled, and treatment was deemed as having no “benefit.”

People with disabilities, no matter how major or minor, have as much value and worth and dignity as their able-bodied peers. Their right to life should be respected just as much as anyone else’s — yet time and time again, they’re subjected to death, simply for being different. Such a thing is unconscionable, yet it’s continuing to happen more frequently as the culture of death continues to spread.

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