A cross-party group of MPs have launched a bill to ban late-term abortions carried out on the grounds of minor physical abnormalities.
The bill would change the law to clarify that cleft palate, cleft lip and club foot are not grounds for abortion. These conditions can be corrected shortly after birth with minor surgery, but abortions after 24-week legal limit continue to take place with these conditions cited as the primary reason.
Conservative MP Fiona Bruce, whose son was born with a club foot, is leading the bill. “This is a sensible law change that I am inviting all MPs, regardless of where they stand on the wider issue of abortion, to get behind and support,” she said.
“It’s now been 30 years since Parliament last properly reviewed our law on abortion for disability in 1990. It’s time our legislation caught up to reflect society’s positive change in attitudes towards those born with disabilities, and medical advances in the intervening years.”
According to official statistics, there were 75 abortions between 2011 and 2018 in England and Wales where the principal condition of either cleft lip or cleft palate. However, the campaign group Right to Life UK says the real figure is likely significantly higher due to under-reporting.
Catherine Robinson, a spokesperson for the group, said: “As a society, we should be empowering those with disabilities, and take great pride in the positive contribution they make to our country. To do this, we have a moral obligation to quash anything that perpetuates false and negative stereotypes towards those with a disability, and that is why we support the group of cross-party MPs who have brought forward this important Bill to help end disability-discrimination in the womb.
People are shocked and horrified when they discover that abortion is permitted up to birth after the diagnosis of cleft lip, cleft palate, and clubfoot as the primary condition, believing it goes against the very fabric of what our country stands for today.
Our abortion legislation is badly in need of reform to end this unjust discrimination, and we hope this Bill is successful in helping end this disability-discrimination.”
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