There has been righteous indignation and calls for a change to Britain’s laws regarding abortion from outraged MP’s following news that a child was aborted at the alarming gestational age of 39 weeks. The fully developed child, which was only days away from birth, was legally terminated because there was a “significant risk” he or she would have been disabled.
While Express, a British media outlet, reports on the incident and that at time of reporting that “[s]o far there has been no official Government response to the report[,]” there has not been silence on the incident, and rightfully so. Express includes statements from MP’s across party lines:
Conservative MP Fiona Bruce, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-life Group, said: “I do not understand how we can have a law which allows the life of a baby with a disability to be ended at full term. It is a graphic illustration of society’s inconsistency on disability.
“After birth we work hard to ensure equality, but before birth we have laws to prevent the disabled taking their first breath. This medieval, cruel, discriminatory law must change.”
Labour MP Rob Flello added: “We have a Jekyll and Hyde approach to disability. One one hand the entire country can be united in praise of paralympians. On the other we can permit the abortion of children at nine months simply for the crime of having a disability.
“This law desperately needs some sanity.”
Such statements are reminiscent of what those who are living with disabilities themselves have to say, such as Tom Shakespeare, about living fulfilling lives, yet still noticing a sense of prejudice against those with disabilities. Of course, the greatest form of prejudice against a class of people or an individual is to kill them, especially when they are so vulnerable and defenseless.
Express also reports that:
Department of Health figures show that last year a further three abortions were carried out on mothers who were 38 weeks pregnant and two more on women 37 weeks into pregnancy.
NHS guidelines consider a baby is full-term at 37 weeks, though most women go into labour between 38 and 42 weeks into their pregnancy.
…Last year there were 190 abortions beyond the 24-week limit, almost 20 per cent up on the previous year.
While an abortion is a human rights violation against an unborn child of any gestational age, it is especially barbaric to terminate the life of one who is so developmentally advanced, and can even feel pain. Using the above figures, the five mentioned, plus the one child aborted at 39 weeks, that is six children who could very well have been born, given the chance. And while it is certainly not the fault of those children who are born prematurely and manage to survive with care that is given to them, as deserved, what makes their lives more worthwhile?
And that the increase, of a whopping “almost 20 per cent” is even more alarmingly reflective of how society regards those who only just have a “significant risk” of having a disability.
All people are deserving of the right to life and a sense of dignity, irrespective of disability, for the sole reason that they are human beings. Clearly there are those who disagree, and regardless of their justification, have a reason which can not be anything but unfounded and the ultimate, the worst form of prejudice and discrimination. But even such persons should be alarmed with the way in which the law in Britain operates.
Note that Express refers to the “significant risk” of having a disability as the reason why the child was aborted. This, of course, means, that there is no certainty that the child will actually be disabled. And while it is wrong for any child to be aborted, it should especially cause outrage when the reason for such an abortion didn’t even turn out to the actual case:
Most were carried out under a legal definition known as Ground E, where there is “substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped”.
Last year a parliamentary commission called for change in the law after hearing rules even allowed abortions at 40 weeks on grounds of disability.
It learned that abortions can be carried out on babies with a cleft lip or club foot, conditions that can be rectified after birth. One doctor reported that on some occasions a wrong diagnosis had been given and the dead foetus was found to have no disability.
So far there has been no official Government response to the report.
It is worth questioning why children, who may not even have a disability, but have merely been given such a diagnosis, are so cruelly killed off before they have the chance to live with such a disability, to see if they will really live the life that is feared for them and their caretakers. Tom Shakespeare does reflect on this in his “Point of View” piece for BBC.
We see examples of those who abort their children feared to be born with disabilities because they regard it as “the most humane thing.” Nothing about the abortion is “humane,” however, and always causes suffering, oftentimes for the mother as well as for her child being killed. What is usually comes down to then is a sense of how selfish the act of a quick fix of an abortion is, as we don’t want to be burdened with caring for others who may not be able to care for themselves. And so an unborn child needlessly suffers and the world is left lacking of the untold gifts and contributions they may have been able to make to society.