This Friday, the United Kingdom’s House of Lords is set to debate a bill that would prevent preborn babies from being targeted for abortion due to disability. The bill, proposed by Lord Kevin Shinkwin – who has a disability – would remove two clauses from the UK’s 1967 Abortion Act:
First, the legislation would strike from the law allowances for abortion based on fetal disability. Lord Shinkwin explained that under the nation’s current laws, “disability carries a death sentence…. Discrimination on the grounds of disability after birth is outlawed. Yet today legal and lethal discrimination on the grounds of disability is allowed up to birth by law.”
In addition to removing the general allowance for abortion due to fetal disability, the proposed bill would also undo what Shinkwin refers to as an “obvious discrimination” resulting from the 1967 Abortion Act: the law’s current allowance for abortion of a fetus with disabilities any time up until birth, while allowing abortion of a healthy fetus up to 24 weeks.
“For as long as this discrimination is allowed by law and remains on the statute book, how can I, as a severely disabled person, reasonably be expected to regard myself as an equal?” Shinkwin asked peers at the Queen’s Speech debate in July. Referring to opponents of the proposed bill, Shinkwin commented, “I respectfully invite them to imagine the outcry if the same were applied to skin colour or sexual orientation. Such discrimination would rightly be regarded as outrageous.”
Lord Shinkwin suffers from brittle bone disease, a condition which often results in fractures or breaks from minor trauma or with no apparent cause – sometimes even before birth in severe cases. Shinkwin has reportedly endured multiple fractures and operations.
In July of this year, a bill seeking to legalize the abortion of preborn children with disabilities was defeated in neighbor Ireland. In May, Live Action News writer Christina Marie Bennett reported on the UK campaign “Don’t Screen Us Out,” which stands against prenatal testing for disabilities due to the fact that so many of these children are aborted for eugenic reasons:
They believe the pressure parents receive to abort, along with a lack of support, violates the UK’s obligations stated in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD states that people with disabilities and their families should be accommodated, included, and supported by society….
They caution against detecting children with disabilities until those reforms are achieved and anti-disabled discrimination is avoided.
If passed, Lord Shinkwin’s bill could be the most significant pro-life legislation since abortion was legalized in the UK.