Regan King comments on how abortion is used to discriminate on the basis of disability.
Our four-part ‘Abortion Discriminates’ series was originally published in 2017 to address the often overlooked reality that abortion, at its core, is a discriminatory action. Over the next weeks, we’ll be reposting these articles as part of our ‘More than a Number’ campaign, showing how abortion intentionally discriminates on the basis of race, sex and disability. You can follow more of our campaign on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels.
The sad plight of the happiest people
In 2011, statistics released showed that people with Down’s syndrome are remarkably happy. Indeed, they are some of the happiest people in the world. 99% of people with Down’s syndrome said they were happy with their lives with 97% of people with Down’s indicating they liked their lives. Despite this good and positive perception and outlook on life, there are people who see Down’s syndrome not as a uniqueness to be understood and appreciated but rather as a burden to be borne and eventually eradicated.
At least one country looks to be succeeding at eradicating Down’s. Iceland made headlines after CBS aired a special report indicating the genetic disorder also known as Trisomy 21 is rapidly ‘disappearing’ from the country. The network tweeted this past Sunday:
“Iceland is on pace to virtually eliminate Down’s syndrome through abortion. #CBSNOA learns more, tonight at 10pm ET/PT.”
What became clear through the report was that far from disappearing through some new corrective medical innovation, Iceland’s increasingly low number of children born with Down’s is due to a particular type of prenatal screening, known as ‘NIPT’. Almost 100% of babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome in this screening process are aborted. Aborted because they have Down’s. Aborted because they are not considered ‘normal’. Aborted because they are unwanted, unwanted simply because they have Down’s.
Pro-life actress Patricia Heaton put it well, saying: “Iceland isn’t actually eliminating Down’s Syndrome. They’re just killing everybody that has it. Big difference.”
Surely it is obvious that in every way this is discriminatory.
The problem is by no means limited to Iceland. Denmark aborts 98% of pre-born children found to be with Down’s with France being lower at 77%. The UK aborts 90% of pre-born children with Down’s – last year at least 706 were aborted who had been diagnosed with Down’s in the UK. Statistics from the USA show a lower percentage, but over 60% of children found to be with Down’s are still aborted. All for the same reason as Iceland. The children were diagnosed with Down’s syndrome.
The chilling reality of abortion’s disability discrimination
Disability discrimination is all too familiar for many disabled people. Sometimes discrimination is not deliberate or intentional but the feeling is elicited through lack of appropriate care, accessibility, and hands on practical help both for the disabled and their family. Some indicate that the prejudice around disability is a factor that gives people legitimate and understandable grounds to abort. Kristina Chew, mother to a severely autistic child writes:
“It is one thing to champion the rights of the unborn. The fact of the matter is, there are few places in the world that do an adequate job of caring for an individual with disabilities.”
The frustration is understandable. The problem needs to be sorted and those of us who show our love for the pre-born child’s right to life should also show of love for the disabled child and the child’s family through various mediums of practical help and support.
Being disabled, however, is not a crime and is not deserving of the death penalty that abortion so often imposes. The wrongdoing of many in our society towards disabled people and the at times very apparent lack of care and consideration for the disabled’s needs does not make aborting a disabled child right. Lord Shinkwin, a Peer in the House of Lords who was born with a rare genetic brittle bone disease has spoken of Britain’s abortion laws as “a licence to kill for the crime of being disabled”.
Although in any other case, abortion is only allowed up to 24 weeks, disabled children in the UK can be aborted all the way up to birth.
Indeed, disability to the child is a primary circumstance for abortion allowed by the 1967 Abortion Act, clearly indicating that disabled children are viewed as having less value and worth.
The Disability Rights Commission has said of this allowance in the Abortion Act,
“The Section is offensive to many people; it reinforces negative stereotypes of disability and there is substantial support for the view that to permit terminations at any point during a pregnancy on the ground of risk of disability, while time limits apply to other grounds set out in the Abortion Act, is incompatible with valuing disability and non-disability equally.”
And yet, abortions with disability as a primary motive continue. In the UK last year, at least 3213 babies were aborted simply because they were diagnosed as having a disability. This included 9 who had surgically correctible cleft lip or palate.
The figure, sadly, may well rise with this year’s introduction to the NHS of a blood test known as Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT). NIPT is designed for the particular purpose of screening for Down’s, Patau’s, and Edward’s syndromes which will in all likelihood end in many terminations.
We must do better
Churches and individual Christians must do better about showing care for the disabled and their families. If we are truly pro-life, this must be reflected in our campaign to end discrimination against the disabled both before and after birth. Look into ways that you can show care and love for the disabled in your local area.
Stay up to date on latest news in the campaign to end the screening out of the disabled via Lord Shinkwin’s ‘We’re all equal’ campaign and that of ‘Don’t Screen us Out’.
Express your concerns over the systemic discrimination of the disabled in the current abortion legislation to your local MP and ask him/her to support attempts to stop this discrimination.
Pray that God will bring our nation back from its ongoing rush into more and more destructive practice and that our Government will have its eyes opened to the discriminatory reality of the abortion industry.