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Nursing student born at 23-weeks bravely speaks out against abortion up-to-birth proposal

Twenty year old nursing student second-year, Sophie Proud, who was born at 23 weeks, bravely spoke out at the UK Royal College of Nursing Congress today in a debate on the ‘merits’ of introducing abortion up-to-birth.

“I would like to draw your attention to a specialist field within children’s nursing: neonatology. One sentence within the Act says that abortion can take place up until the 24th week of pregnancy. I was born at 23 weeks, 20 years ago, and I believe that this should be looked at. I realise that without extensive medical intervention, I would not be standing here today. The viability of a foetus needs to be considered as I am living proof that there is a potential for a baby to survive before 24 weeks. The survival rates are higher now than they were 20 years ago thanks to medical advances.”

Sophie Proud, who was born at 23 weeks in 1996, was one of the youngest premature babies ever to survive at the time when she was born in April 1996 weighing just 1lb 9oz – around the same as a bag of sugar. Her twin died at birth.

Whilst there is a 24 week time limit on Ground C and D abortions (which are invoked largely for social reasons), there is no time limit for abortions in England, Wales and Scotland if the baby is thought to have a disability.

The debate at the RCN congress centred around the ‘decriminalistion’ of abortion, which would allow abortions to take place up until the moment of birth, for any reason whatsoever.

Sophie articulately demonstrates that scientific advances in recent years have made a mockery of the 24-week limit in the UK.

Her speech also reflects broader public opinion. A 2012 Angus Reid poll found only 2% of women wanted the time limit extended beyond 24 weeks, in contrast with 59% of women who favoured a reduction in time limits.

It also follows the widespread public outcry earlier this year after the president of the Royal College of Midwives, Cathy Warwick, (who is also the chair of UK abortion provider BPAS) signed-up the membership of the RCM to a campaign supporting abortion up-to-birth for any reason.

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader

In 2020, the UK Government imposed an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, which included a provision that legalised abortion right up to birth for disabilties including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

A new Bill has been launched at the Northern Ireland assembly that will remove the current provision that allows abortion for ‘severe fetal impairment’.

It is under these grounds in the regulations that babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot can currently be singled out for abortion in Northern Ireland because of their disability and can be aborted right up to birth.

Before the new abortion regime was imposed on Northern Ireland in 2020, disability-selective abortion for conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot was not legal and there was a culture of welcoming and supporting people with these disabilities rather than eliminating them.

This is reflected directly in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, which show that while there were 52 children born with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, in the same year only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales. 

This contrasts with the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom where disability-selective abortion has been legal since 1967.

The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to take 30 seconds of your time and add your support to the campaign to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot in Northern Ireland.

If you live in Northern Ireland: 
Ask your MLAs to vote to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot:

If you live outside Northern Ireland: 
Show your support by signing this petition in support of the Bill:

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Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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