‘Smothering a child’ claim not shocking says Ironside

Virginia Ironside, who said “any good mother” would smother a suffering child, says her comments “might be seen as slightly controversial, but not shocking”.

  • Watch Virginia Ironside’s comments
  • Writing in The Sunday Times, she attempted to defend herself against a public backlash saying her views are not “much of a jump” from discussing euthanasia of the elderly.

    She says a doctor friend wrote to her to say he supported her comments “200% of the way” and wrote that “there were far too many ‘warm cabbages’ (his words) at either end of life’s spectrum”.

    Repeating her comments on aborting what she calls “grossly disabled” babies, she said mothers who did so should be “congratulated”.

    She also says her views were common in the 60s and “often the fuel for a pro-woman’s choice movement”.

    Last weekend Miss Ironside, who is an agony aunt for the Independent, caused a storm of controversy when she made her comments on the BBC’s Sunday Morning Live programme.


    She defended her remarks saying: “I wasn’t arguing for a change in the law. I certainly wasn’t arguing for a compulsory ending of all pregnancies in which it turned out that a child might be grossly disabled or highly disadvantaged.

    “I simply said that if this was likely to be the case, a mother should be congratulated for having an abortion and not vilified.”

    Miss Ironside, who is a mother-of-one, then went on to defend her comments about smothering a suffering child.


    She said there has been a public debate “about the euthanasia of old”, and “it didn’t seem like too much of a jump to discuss the same aspect at a much earlier stage in people’s lives.”

    Miss Ironside dismissed the critical emails and letters she had received from furious members of the public.

    She said: “Now I wouldn’t have got this reaction in the past. First in the 1960s, when views such as mine were commonplace, they were often the fuel for a pro-woman’s choice movement.”


    One letter blasted Miss Ironside saying: “I cannot express, without stooping to your level of offensiveness, how I felt when I saw your interview on child suffering. I am very open to listening to people’s views, however different from mine… but your comments literally turned my stomach.”

    Miss Ironside’s comments were made during a debate on the show entitled “Can abortion be a kindness?”.

    In response to Miss Ironside’s comments on the BBC, Dr Peter Evans, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, cautioned: “For us to make judgements that people are not worth life, not worth the opportunity to live, is a very dangerous thing.”


    In the same week the father of a severely disabled child slammed the agony aunt and revealed how caring for his daughter had enriched his life beyond measure.

    Ian Birrell, whose 16-year-old daughter has a rare genetic disorder, branded Miss Ironside a “eugenicist”, and described fatherhood as an “intensely rewarding” experience.

    Mr Birrell, writing in The Daily Mail, said: “Her grossly insensitive comments on BBC TV that she would personally murder a disabled or unwanted child — that to kill such children was ‘the act of a loving mother’ — would seem unbelievable if they did not reveal attitudes still so prevalent in our society.


    “She reveals herself to be not only foolish, but also to be a deeply unpleasant eugenicist.

    “Her views would have been acceptable in ancient Greece, when the Spartans threw disabled children to their deaths as part of their quest for perfection.”

    He added: “Imagine the outcry if Ms Ironside had said black children or gay teenagers should be exterminated. She would, rightly, never again be invited to display her stupidity on BBC television or to write her column for a liberal newspaper.”

    Watch Virginia Ironside’s comments on smothering a suffering child

    Watch Virginia Ironside’s comments on abortion

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