Abortion law is ‘outdated and discriminatory’, inquiry told

Current abortion laws are outdated, discriminatory and in need of reform, a Parliamentary inquiry investigating abortion on the grounds of disability has been told.

At the moment, abortions can be carried out up to full-term if tests show the child may be disabled.

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE, co-chair of the Not Yet Dead campaign group and Director of Inclusion21, told the inquiry, this “means that, in law, it is OK to discriminate”.


The committee also heard that parents often felt pressured towards abortions because of the lack of impartial information and language used by medical practitioners.

The inquiry, chaired by Fiona Bruce MP and made up of a cross-party committee of MPs and Peers, will hear evidence from a number of leading voices on abortion and disability.

The committee, which includes Baroness Hollins, a cross-bench peer and president of the British Medical Association, will consider whether having different abortion rules for babies with disabilities is discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010.


Statistics show that there were 2,307 abortions for disabilities in 2011 in England and Wales, out of a total of almost 190,000.

In January a couple told their heart-rending story of saying “no” to aborting their severely disabled child – after seeing his smiling face on a 3D scan.

Katyia Rowe said seeing their son smiling, blowing bubbles, kicking and waving his arms left her convinced she should not abort him.


And despite the negative outlook for their son, she said: “As I watched I knew that while I was carrying him he still had a quality of life and it was my duty as a mother to protect that no matter how long he had left, he deserved to live.”

According to figures from the Department of Health, in 2010, 482 babies were aborted because they were found to have Down’s Syndrome.

But according to separate statistics from the National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register, the number is almost double at 942.

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