Mothers of babies with Down’s syndrome pressured to abort, Australian disability inquiry hears

The mothers of children with Down’s syndrome are revealing the pressure they are put under by medics, often while in an emotional state, to abort their unborn babies with the condition. 

The alarming testimonies were heard by Australia’s Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability as it began a two-week hearing on how individuals with a cognitive disability experience healthcare in the country. 

Toni Mitchell, from Toowoomba, says she’s had to continually justify the life of her son Joshua, who has Down’s syndrome and autism, to healthcare professionals.

Speaking to the Commission, Toni shared how one doctor assumed she would have an abortion when her Joshua was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome following a routine ultrasound scan.

After being told she was having a boy, a senior doctor told Toni it was highly likely her baby would have Down’s syndrome and could miscarry within several weeks.

While Toni was still crying the man said, “Here’s your appointment for a termination”, she said, and he gave her a piece of paper. 

“That was our introduction to it and it set the whole tone for Joshy’s life”, Toni said. 

“In that moment, they completely disallowed his life. They said he wasn’t worth living.”

Toni told the commission that she threw the paper in the bin.

“That was the moment I had to start justifying my son’s right to live and to be treated and I had to start justifying his value to be alive,” she said.

“For the whole rest of my pregnancy… they kept saying, you don’t understand what you’re doing.

“You don’t understand the immensity of bringing a child like this into the world, you don’t understand what a burden this is going to be on you and on society and your family.

“They kept just judging us based on my decision to give him a chance at life.”

Rebecca Kelly, whose son Ryan has Down syndrome, told the Commission that in the model of Australia’s health system “if you can’t cure it … then you eradicate it.”

“If you think that person’s life is a tragedy and that they suffer from this condition then you start to believe that it’s an act of kindness or that it’s a responsible act to do all you can to prevent that birth, and that becomes quite coercive,” she added.

However, likeToni experienced, Rebecca revealed the problems didn’t end with abortion pressure. 

Rebecca stated: “if you have a doctor [who] thinks that possibly your life’s going to be a little bit better if your child doesn’t make it because they’re taking that burden away from you, that has horrible implications for the level of care that you don’t get.”

The Royal Commission was established in April 2019 and will seek to provide an interim report by October 2020, and a final report by April 2022. It is hoped the report will lead to better healthcare for those with disabilities and more support for parents of children with disabilities. 

Last year, it was revealed pregnant mothers in the UK were facing similar pressure to abort children with Down’s syndrome. 

Research by Positive About Down Syndrome (PADS) shows that even after being offered an abortion and informing medical professionals that they wished to keep their baby, 46 percent of mothers were asked again if they wanted to abort.

Figures published just one month later found that the number of babies born with Down’s syndrome has dropped by 30% in NHS hospitals that have introduced new non-invasive prenatal tests, adding weight to the study conducted by PADS.

Thousands rally against extreme abortion up-to-birth proposals in South Australia

Thousands of pro-life campaigners gathered in South Australia this week to urge the state Government to drop plans to introduce abortion, for any reason, up to birth.

Over 3,500 attended Adelaide’s Walk for Life on the weekend carrying signs which read, “Abortion Up To Birth, Not in SA,” “Choose Life” and “Love them Both”.

The event was organised by Love Adelaide, a pro-life organisation concerned by the extreme abortion law changes being proposed in South Australia. 

Love Adelaide founder Jodie Pickard said the Walk For Life event was the largest pro-life rally held in South Australia over the past decade. 

She told The Advertiser: “Our laws allow abortion up to 28 weeks, past viability and they see no legal, moral or ethical reason to consider extending what is already extreme abortion law in itself.” 

Speaking at the Walk for Life, pro-life MP Claire Scriven described the proposed laws as “damaging and devastating”.

“It’s fair to say that generally people expect that new laws that are introduced will help our society or will help conditions for individuals within our society.

“These proposals do neither of those two things. These proposals abandon women and these proposals abandon their babies.” 

Abortion is already available up to 28 weeks’ gestation in South Australia if two doctors agree a woman’s physical or mental health is endangered by pregnancy, or if there is a risk the child is likely to be born with a serious abnormality.

However, the Attorney-General’s Office is currently drafting more extreme abortion laws after receiving a detailed list of recommendations from the South Australian Law Reform Institute (SALRI).

In February 2019, the South Australian Attorney-General Vickie Chapman MP asked SALRI to examine the current South Australian law on abortion and propose reforms that would “improve the efficiency of health service provision and access”.

In response, SALRI issued a report, in October, calling on the Attorney General to fully ‘decriminalise’ abortion in the Australian state, along with an extensive list of extreme abortion proposals. The term ‘decriminalise’ is a misnomer used by abortion activists to describe the removal of almost all current safeguards around abortion.

The Attorney General has since announced he plans to adopt most of the extreme proposals put forward by SALRI, with a bill expected to be presented to the state parliament in the coming months.  

The proposed new abortion regime will allow abortion, for any reason, up to birth with the involvement of one medical practitioner, providing that after 23 weeks the medical practitioner discusses the abortion ‘procedure’ with another practitioner. 

The Attorney General’s Office will seek to remove a requirement that abortions must take place in prescribed hospitals. Additionally, they accepted a recommendation that no restrictions should be placed on the use of telehealth medicine abortions, also informally known as ‘facetime abortions’.

In practice, abortions could then be available in school nurse clinics, pharmacies, university health clinics and even in mobile abortion clinics, potentially during school lunch hours.

The Attorney General has also adopted SALRI’s recommendation that there should be “no legislative prohibition in South Australia on gender selective abortion”.  

The new bill will also propose the inclusion of so-called “safe access zones” which seek to block and prevent any peaceful demonstrations and help from being offered anywhere abortions may take place. The prescribed distance will be 150m. 

Legislative changes will also be made to allow nurses and midwives to prescribe powerful abortion-inducing drugs. There appears to be nothing in the documentation that would prevent abortion pills being from being taken at locations such as schools, colleges etc, possibly under coercion from third-parties. 

In 2017, 4,349 abortions took place in the South Australia. 

Last year, the Australian state of New South Wales voted in favour of an extreme abortion bill permitting terminations up to 22 weeks without any kind of restriction and up to birth with the consent of two doctors.

In neighbouring New Zealand, a similar bill to introduce de-facto abortion for any reason up to birth is currently going through parliament.

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“It’s so good to see such large number of people out standing up for the unborn and women facing unplanned pregnancies, and against this extreme abortion proposal. This follows a massive backlash in New South Wales last year when a similar extreme abortion law was proposed there.

“We should not be desensitised to the severity of what is being proposed in South Australia. Children are born at 22 weeks in developed countries and go on to thrive. Abortion at this late stage, and even up until birth, whether in South Australia or in anywhere else, is especially barbaric.”

Australia: New South Wales’ extreme abortion bill becomes law

The Australian state of New South Wales has voted in favour of an extreme abortion bill that will permit terminations up to 22 weeks gestation without any kind of restriction and up to birth with the consent of two doctors.

There was applause in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly as the Abortion Law Reform Act passed 26-14 in the state’s lower house, on Thursday, after 70 hours of debate in both houses.

Previously, abortions were only permitted in Australia’s most populous state if a doctor deemed the physical or mental health of a pregnant mother to be in serious danger if she continued to carry her child.

The legalisation of abortion in New South Wales means that unborn babies can be legally terminated everywhere in Australia.

The new legislation was strongly opposed by some pro-life parliamentarians who tried to add in amendments to protect some unborn babies and raised concerns about late-term abortions.

MP Mr Mason-Cox declared the bill dangerous and said “it lacks proper safeguards. It totally ignores the rights of an unborn child particularly in the case of late-term abortions.”

MP Mr Amato raised similar concerns and noted some MPs have put their “careers on the line” in the hope of defeating some of the more controversial elements of the bill.

Amendments passed in the New South Wales Legislative Council include one stating the New South Wales parliament opposes sex-selective abortions, with a future report on the issue to include recommendations on its prevention.

Another clarifies that doctors must provide appropriate care to babies born alive after a termination.

An amendment that would have requested the administration of pain relief in cases of the termination of unborn babies 20 weeks and beyond failed.

In neighbouring New Zealand, a similar bill to decriminalise abortion is currently going through parliament.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“This appalling Bill will likely result in an increase in the number of lost lives as it places no restrictions at all on abortion up to 22 weeks and will, in practice, allow for abortion for any reason up to birth, providing two doctors in the state are willing to approve the abortion.”

“In the UK, since the abortion act came into effect, over 9 million unborn children have had their lives ended. Last year, abortion numbers hit a ten year high with almost 1 in 4 pregnancies resulting in a termination of an unborn baby. The sadness and severity of these figures will now become a stark reality for New South Wales.”

(Image credit: Adobe Stock: #181624064)

Pro-life Australian MPs pass amendment to prevent sex-selective abortion

Pro-life MPs in New South Wales, Australia have managed to add safeguards against sex-selective abortion to an extreme bill which intends to permit abortion up until birth with the approval of two health professionals. 

A simple amendment tabled by Finance Minister Damien Tudehope will state that the NSW Parliament opposes sex-selective abortions and will require a future review into sex-selective abortion with recommendations about how to prevent them.

It passed the upper house 28 votes to 13 after an earlier version, which attached a maximum six-month prison sentence for the offence, had been defeated. 

Last month, pro-abortion MPs pushed a radical bill through the state’s lower house which could permit abortion for any reason right up until the day of birth.

Since then the upper house has considered more than 30 amendments to the bill, with debates set to resume on Tuesday. 

In its current form, the extreme abortion bill will allow terminations up to 22 weeks without any kind of restriction at all as well as abortions up to birth if two doctors agree. 

In addition to an amendment is opposition to sex-selective abortion, Pro-life MPs have been successful in tabling and passing a number of other amendments that will help protect some unborn children who will prematurely lose their life as a result of the extreme abortion bill.

One such amendment is the survival amendment, tabled by MP Niall Blair, which states doctors must provide appropriate care to babies who are born alive after a botched abortion.

The Spectator’s Rebecca Weisser noted the importance of the amendment, comparing it to other Australian States without such laws saying:

“In Victoria, in 2016, 33 babies with suspected or confirmed congenital abnormalities were born alive and left to die out of 310 late-term abortions. In Queensland, more than 200 babies who survived abortions between 2005 and 2015 were left to die.”

The upper house also agreed to a positive amendment moved by MP Taylor Martin to change the name of the radical laws from the Reproductive Health Care Reform Act 2019 to the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019.

Other pro-life amendments to be debated include; improved conscientious objection protections for doctors and mandatory counselling for those seeking an abortion.

Another amendment by MP Greg Donnelly to require informed consent for terminations of unborn babies with a suspected or confirmed disability was rejected by 26 votes to 14.

The abortion bill will be sent back to the lower house next week for a vote on its new form.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“While it is great to see pro-life MPs have had success in softening New South Wales’ extreme abortion bill, any loss of life due to abortion is a tragedy. This appalling Bill will result in a profound number of lost lives as it places no restrictions at all on abortion up to 22 weeks and will, in practice, allow for abortion for any reason up to birth, providing two doctors in the state are willing to approve the abortion”