In the United Kingdom, abortion is banned after 24 weeks of pregnancy- unless the preborn baby has been diagnosed with any kind of disability, no matter how minor. Even if the baby merely has a cleft lip, the mother can legally have an abortion up to the 40th week of pregnancy. One lawmaker is fighting to change that.
Last year, Lord Kevin Shinkwin introduced a bill that would close two loopholes in the UK’s 1967 Abortion Act: striking allowances for abortion based on disability, and removing the current allowance in the law that permits preborn babies with disabilities to be aborted at any time in pregnancy.
Former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino describes a third trimester abortion in this video:
Last week the parliament was debating Shinkwin’s proposal. That was when Shinkwin gave a passionate speech warning that people with disabilities face extinction if this discrimination is allowed to continue:
I can see from the trends in abortion on grounds of disability that the writing is on the wall for people like me. People with congenital disabilities are facing extinction. If we were animals, perhaps we might qualify for protection as an endangered species. But we are only human beings with disabilities, so we don’t qualify.
[…] Our Paralympians represented their country in Rio with pride. The essential qualification for competing at Rio? Their disability. The country applauded their success; the same country whose law regards that essential qualification for going to Rio — disability — as a reason they should die. How, my Lords, is that fair, is that right or is that logical? It is none of those, which is why today I reflect on the remarkable impact that laws passed by your Lordships’ House have had on my life as a disabled person. It’s why I ask myself this question: how could I not have faith in our common humanity? How could I not have faith in the truth that there is more that unites than divides us? And how could I not believe that your Lordships’ House will be true to itself and continue its noble fight for disability equality by passing this bill?
Shinkwin has brittle bone disease, or osteogenesis imperfecta, which can cause bones to break easily. Shinkwin himself has said that he has undergone multiple operations, and has had multiple fractures.
This is not the first time that the UK’s abortion law has come under scrutiny; a parliamentary commission called for a change to the law in 2013. But now, years later, preborn babies with disabilities are still targeted for discrimination.
The commission noted that parents who received a prenatal diagnosis were steered towards abortion, without being given information about their other options, or about support and resources available to them. The commission had also noted that abortions of babies with disabilities was sharply rising, with 9 out of 10 babies with Down syndrome diagnosed prenatally being aborted. In 2015, an estimated 3,213 U.K. babies were aborted because they were diagnosed with a disability, a 68 percent increase in 10 years. Even women who had undergone IVF had an abortion if the baby had Down syndrome. Multiple politicians in the United Kingdom have called for children with disabilities to either be murdered or forcibly aborted.
Shinkwin is right in saying that people with disabilities are facing extinction in the United Kingdom. And while changing the law will be a good step forward, ultimately, what needs to be changed is the overall culture, to accept that people with disabilities have a right to life as much as any other person.