Great Britain’s House of Lords is debating a bill that would protect unborn children with disabilities from abortion. The bill was introduced by Lord Shinkwin this week, according to the Catholic Herald.
The Disability Equality bill was given its first reading on Wednesday. Lord Shinkwin introduced the bill with a powerful reminder of how abortion can be discriminatory.
“Discrimination of the grounds of disability after birth is outlawed,” he said. “Yet today legal and lethal discrimination on the grounds of disability is allowed up to birth by law.”
In England, the 1967 Abortion Act legalized abortion up until viability and later when two physicians agree “that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.” Lord Shinkwin’s bill would strike this disability condition from the law, the report states.
British National Health System (NHS) statistics revealed that there are high numbers of children aborted in England and Wales under the disability clause, the Herald reports. According to the government data, 3,213 babies were aborted under the clause in 2015; 689 of these children were aborted because of Down syndrome.
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Lord Shinkwin described the importance of protecting disabled children: “For me, a one-nation society is one that does not discriminate on account of disability – a society in which disability equality is a consistent reality.”
He went on to explain that the current law prohibits this equality: “It is illegal for an unborn human being to have their life ended by abortion beyond 24 weeks, but if they have a disability their life can be ended right up to birth by law. Where is the consistency, the justice or the equality in that?
“If anyone thinks such obvious discrimination is acceptable, I respectfully invite them to imagine the outcry if the same were applied to skin color or sexual orientation. Such discrimination would rightly be regarded as outrageous.”
Because this is a private bill that does not have support from a specific political party, it is improbable that it will become law, according to the report. Yet Lord Shinkwin’s bringing forth this important issue raises awareness of the value of human life in every stage and form.