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Court of Appeal rules that doctors must not force abortion on woman against her will

Three Court of Appeal judges have ruled that doctors must not perform an abortion on a woman with a learning disability.

On Friday 21st June, Justice Nathalie Lieven ruled that the woman must be forced to have an abortion against her will, and in spite of the fact that the woman’s own mother offered to look after the child.

On Monday 24th June, Lord Justice McCombe, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson overturned the ruling after the woman’s mother mounted a legal challenge.

The three judges said they would present the reasons for their decision at a later date.

At this time, the identities of the family, their social worker and NHS Trust who brought the case against them remain unknown.

During the hearing, details of how the woman was being prepared for a forced abortion.

Barrister Fiona Paterson, who represented the NHS hospital trust with responsibility for the woman’s care, told the three appeal judges: “She was told she would go to sleep.”

“She would have an operation and when she woke up the baby would no longer be in her tummy. But she would get a new doll.”

Miss Paterson said the woman had already been given a doll which she played with.

She added that it was “thought to be in keeping with her current level of understanding of the pregnancy” and that doctors believed “the prospect of a new one might be very appealing to her”.

Clare McCarthy of Right To Life UK has said:

“The Court of Appeal’s decision which will save the life of the unborn child and the mother from a forced late-term abortion and much undue distress, is extremely welcome. However, the horrific original ruling should never have happened.

Unfortunately, we fear that this is not a one-off case.

We are calling on the Department of Health to urgently reveal how many women have been forced to have an abortion in the UK over the last 10 years and make it clear how they will ensure it will not happen again.”

Lord Alton of Liverpool has said:

“The decision of the Appeal Court restores my faith in our judicial system. The implications of their decision should now be carefully considered by the Court of Protection. By supplanting the rights of the family, and the rights of a vulnerable pregnant woman, the Court of Protection went way beyond the rights of a British Court.  In trampling on the foundational, paramount human right – the very right to life itself – the Court exceeded its authority and the Appeal Court is to be warmly congratulated for overturning it.

There is an old saying that the person who saves a single life, saves the world. The saving of this single life should now open the eyes to the loss of so many others.”

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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