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Female athletes having abortions due to sporting careers, survey reveals

A survey of elite sportswomen in the UK has found that 4% of respondents had an abortion because they felt a baby would impact their sporting career.

In 2017, Sanya Richards-Ross, a former American Olympic champion, claimed that “every female athlete she knew had had an abortion but the issue was not talked about.”

In addition, of the 537 women surveyed, 36% said they do not feel supported by their club or organisation to start a family. 

Paralympic athlete, Jodie Grinham, spoke about this difficult topic saying, “Sadly that’s something that my partner and I have had to speak about – what if…?

“It’s a hard one. I sit there with tears in my eyes because it’s so hard to say. It’s really hard to say to your partner who really wants a baby: Look, I love you with all my heart but if we were to fall pregnant, we wouldn’t be able to keep it.

“It’s very hard to say: ‘I love you but I wouldn’t have your child right now.’ It’s awful, it really is.

“We put so many measures in place to make sure that would never be able to happen. I’ve put my body under different stresses, different mood swings just so I make sure I can go and compete and have my career.”

Grinham goes on to explain that having a baby at the wrong time would mean she isn’t taking her career seriously. 

“Why would I be selected? If I was going out partying every weekend, I wouldn’t be seen to be a committed athlete. For me, if I decide to have a baby a year before a Games, then I’m not committed to going to the Games.”

Grinham is not alone, as 34% of sportswomen surveyed said they have delayed starting a family because of their sporting careers. 

Another sportswoman, speaking about the abortion of her second child, said “I wanted to have another child but I knew if I did I wouldn’t be able to play my game any more. I didn’t want to give up my sport.”

Another expressed concern that no one in her sport had returned after maternity, making her feel the necessary support systems to do so would not be in place.

Thoughts shared in the survey indicate that many of these women would have already started families had they not been restricted by their athletic career. 

“I have always said to my fiance that I’m not having babies until I’m satisfied and until I have achieved what I want to do with sport. My body clock is ticking in my head. I don’t want to find out too late that it’s made it difficult to have children. If I go and have a baby and have nine months off, then I’m probably not going to be the best or the top. If you come back and want to be picked, you have to be the best.”Another woman stated if she wasn’t pursuing sport, she “would have hoped to have been well on my way in a career and have already started a family.”

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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