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Guernsey to introduce disability-selective abortion up to birth

Guernsey politicians have voted in favour of an extreme abortion law introducing disability-selective abortion right up to birth for conditions such as cleft lip, club foot and Down’s syndrome. 

Yesterday, members of the States of Guernsey voted 23 to 13, with one abstainee, to remove the current 24-week time limit protecting babies with disabilities and allow abortion up to birth. 

Protections for babies without a disability will also be weakened with abortions available up to 24 weeks, up from 12 weeks. 

Along with raising abortion time limits, a raft of other extreme measures were also passed including a motion stating that only one doctor will need to sign off on an abortion. 

In addition, the requirement that abortions may only take place in a medical setting will be removed, allowing for ‘DIY’ home abortions with nurses and midwives able to sign off on such terminations.

Healthcare professionals who conscientiously object to abortions will also be expected to ‘make a referral without delay to another health practitioner without such objection’.

The proposals will now be drafted into law before returning to the States of Guernsey for final approval. 

Concerns over the allowing disability-selective abortion up to birth were raised in submissions made to the Health & Social Care committee with one person saying: “I am astonished that there hasn’t been any consideration for the disabled community.” 

Another said: “To allow late term abortion in cases of disability also sends a worrying message to those in our community who live with disability.”

According to official figures, 113 abortions were performed in Guernsey in 2018, with a further three involving Guernsey residents performed in England and Wales.

In a passionate speech against the proposals, Deputy Richard Graham said the changes went too far and questioned Guernsey’s enthusiasm to look at the UK law. 

He said: “I regret that Health & Social Care have identified the UK as the gold standard to be followed, instead I would urge them to look to those countries that have low abortion rates, and seek to learn lessons from them, they are no less civilised, no less compassionate than we are, and they strike me as a far better abortion role model than the UK.”

A spokesperson for Catherine Robinson said: “The extreme abortion proposals that have been approved in Guernsey are named ‘Modernisation of the Abortion (Guernsey) Law’, but there is nothing modern about this law.

“These proposals will ignore modern equality legislation and discriminate against babies and people with disabilities. People such as Heidi Crowter and Lord Shinkwin who have expressed that such laws make them ‘want to cry’ and tell them ‘they are better off dead’.

“The proposals will also allow the abortions of non-disabled babies up to 24 weeks, despite modern science leading to an increased survival rate for premature babies prompting new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

“What would be truly modern of the Government in Guernsey, and other Governments around the world, would be to introduce new laws that show that both lives matter and that every life is precious and of value.”

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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