Bid to restrict abortion of disabled babies fails

An attempt to repeal the law that allows disabled babies to be aborted up to birth has been defeated in the Lords.

Most abortions are only allowed up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, but the time limit does not apply if a ‘serious handicap’ is detected in the baby.

However, ‘serious handicap’ has been taken to include treatable conditions such as a cleft palate or a club foot.

Baroness Masham of Ilton tabled the amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill to stop the late term abortion of disabled babies. She described the current law as “discrimination of the worst sort.”

She asked the Lords: “How can it be, in this modern world of advanced technology, that babies are allowed to go full term and then be given a lethal injection and killed just because they are still inside the womb and may have a handicap?”

She went on: “So much has been talked about the welfare of the child. I must try to persuade some of your Lordships that the welfare of the living baby within the mother’s womb should also be considered and protected.”

The amendment was defeated by 89 votes to 22 on Monday, 28 January 2008.

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