A disabled member of Britain’s House of Lords is fighting to change a British law that permits babies diagnosed with a disability to be aborted up to the moment of birth.
Abortion is legal in the United Kingdom up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. However, the law does not place a time limit on abortion for pregnancies with a fetal disability diagnosis. Abortions are also permitted at any stage in pregnancy if the mother’s life is in jeopardy.
Lord Kevin Shinkwin, a Conservative peer who has brittle bone disease, said during remarks in the House of Lords last week that the current law discriminates against the disabled. He has introduced a bill that would close the loophole for disabled babies.
“I readily admit that maths was never my favorite subject at school — but even I can see from the trends in abortion on grounds of disability that the writing is on the wall for people like me,” Shinkwin told his colleagues. “People with congenital disabilities are facing extinction.”
“If we were animals, perhaps we might qualify for protection as an endangered species,” he added. “But we are only human beings with disabilities, so we don’t qualify.”
Shinkwin said that Britain’s Paralympians recently “represented their country in Rio with pride.”
“The essential qualification for competing at Rio? Their disability. Their country applauded their success, the same country whose law regards that essential qualification for going to Rio—disability—as a reason why they should die. How, my lords, is that fair, is that right, is that logical? It is none of those things.”
“How could I not have faith in our common humanity?” he continued. “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?”
In previous remarks about his bill last October, Shinkwin cited the UK’s Department of Health published statistics on abortion in 2015. Shinkwin said there were 230 abortions past 24 weeks due to disability in 2015, which he said is “a 56 percent increase in the number of terminations on grounds of disability after 24 weeks over the last 5 years between 2010 and 2015.”
Shinkwin added that “689 abortions were because of a diagnosis of Down Syndrome alone in 2015.”
He said there were another 11 abortions performed due to “cleft lip or palate, an easily surgically rectifiable condition in 2015.”
“By rights, my Lords, I shouldn’t be here. I should be dead,” Shinkwin said, before blasting “the eugenics screening program of our Department of Health.”
(H/T The Federalist)