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Polish legal protection for unborn babies with disabilities comes into effect

A change to abortion law in Poland that will protect babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and cleft palate, came into effect at midnight on Wednesday 27th January 2021.

This followed the highest court in Poland publishing its reasoning for a verdict that protects disabled unborn babies from “eugenic” abortion.

The Constitutional Tribunal made the ruling in October last year but it was not published until Wednesday 27th January. The ruling found that abortions on the grounds of disability were to be prohibited as being incompatible with the Polish Constitution.

Specifically, the Court found that the ‘Family Planning, the Protection of Foetuses, and Grounds for Permitting the Termination of a Pregnancy Act’ 1993 was inconsistent with Articles 38, 30 and 31 of the Polish Constitution.

The ruling explained that the “provisions [of the Act] legalise eugenic practices with regard to the right to life”, and that the Act “correlate[s] the protection of the unborn child’s right to life with the child’s state of health, which constitutes prohibited direct discrimination”.

The Court ruled that the direct lethal discrimination against babies with disabilities through abortion was inconsistent with the Constitution of the Republic of Poland.

Abortion will now be permitted in Poland only in cases of rape or incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger.

Public support for pro-life laws

While there have been some protests by abortion supporters against this new move, polling has revealed there is strong support for pro-life measures in the country with the majority of the populace being firmly opposed to abortion.

A CBOS survey found that 75% of Polish people think abortion is “always wrong and can never be justified”. Meanwhile, only 7% thought there was “nothing wrong with it and could always be justified”.

Additionally, last year a ‘Citizens’ initiative against eugenic abortion’ supporting a ban on disability-selective abortion gathered 830,000 signatures from Polish residents, indicating further strong support for the change in law.

UK legal challenge 

The High Court in London will hear a landmark case against the UK Government over the country’s discriminatory abortion legislation.

Currently in England, Scotland and Wales, the law singles out babies with disabilities, such as cleft lip, club foot and Down’s syndrome, and allows terminations right up to the point of birth. However, there is a 24-week time limit for most abortions that are carried out when a baby does not have a disability.

Heidi Carter, a 25-year-old woman with Down’s syndrome, and Máire Lea-Wilson, whose nineteen-month-old son Aidan also has the condition, both believe this is “deeply offensive” and have joined forces to challenge the law.

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “Whilst certain sections of the media and even the European Parliament are attempting to cast this law in bad light, it is undeniably a good thing. There is simply no defence for laws which unjustly target people with disabilities, laws which allow doctors to end the lives of babies in the womb just because they are disabled”.

“There is a profound contradiction in our culture between the efforts it makes to accommodate the specific needs of people with various disabilities and the fact that lethal discrimination for babies with disabilities is written into law. Babies in the UK can be aborted up to birth if the child is disabled. Thankfully, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal has recognised this contradiction and has now rectified it. People with disabilities deserve the same protection under law as everyone else”.

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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