Thousands march for life in New Zealand, ahead of extreme abortion bill vote

Thousands of people from all over New Zealand marched in the country’s capital on Saturday calling on their political leaders to defend human life from conception, ahead of next year’s vote on an extreme abortion bill.

Over 2,000 people gathered in the streets of Wellington for the third National March for Life carrying signs saying “Both Lives Matter” and “Love them Both”.

It comes as steps are being taken by new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to permit abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities such as Down’s syndrome or cleft lip and palate.

Currently, there is a 20-week time limit for disability-selective abortions in New Zealand law.

The proposed legislation will see this time limit removed and abortion for babies prenatally diagnosed with Down’s syndrome and other disabilities will be available up until birth, with the approval of a single health practitioner.

Before 20 weeks, expectant women would be able to refer themselves for an on-demand abortion.

A large number of parents have publicly voiced their concerns about the harmful impact this Bill will have on people with Down’s syndrome.

These concerns were echoed to thousands of pro-life campaigners on Saturday as Aggie Brown took to the stage with her husband Derek and their adopted nine-year-old son Reuben.

Addressing the crowds, Aggie explained how she and her husband’s life had changed for the better in having Reuben as part of the family, saying:   

“He may have Down’s but he undeniably shows us and others so much love, joy and happiness. He has taught us tolerance, empathy and kindness. There’s no such thing as a perfect human being and it saddens me to hear that Down’s syndrome is seen in a negative light.”

Aggie had been dismayed to learn in the lead up to Reuben’s birth his mother was strongly advised to consider having an abortion, by her GP, who gave her “the worst possible scenario if she chose to keep her Down’s baby”.

She added: “Much work is needed to illuminate the vast majority of genocide, discrimination and mistreatment that people with Down syndrome face.

“We would not be standing here today with our awesome nine-year-old son Reuben had his birth mother decided to have a termination. And for that, we highly commend her in making a courageous selfless decision in choosing adoption as a living option.”

Since 1974, when the first abortion facility opened in Auckland, New Zealand has seen more than 500,000 abortions take place.

In 2018 the total number of abortions was 13,282, the equivalent of 36 abortions per day.

Down’s syndrome births drop 30% in hospitals where new screening tests rolled out

Figures published today show 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.

The figures, released as a result of a number of Freedom of Information requests, show that among the 26 hospitals that provided the tests, there was a change in the birthrate for babies with Down’s syndrome from 1 in 956 births in 2013 to 1 in 1,368 in 2017.

Down’s syndrome advocates are calling on the Government to halt the roll-out of the new tests and undertake an inquiry into the impact that the tests are having on the birth numbers of babies with Down’s syndrome.

The Department of Health has previously admitted that no assessment was made of the impact that the roll-out of the new tests will have on the lives of people with Down’s syndrome. 

Collete Lloyd, whose daughter Katie, 22, has Down’s syndrome obtained the figures. She told The Times that she would struggle to explain to her daughter how the tests could be justified, saying:

“How would I tell her, ‘We have a test so that women can make a choice of whether they want to keep a baby like you or not’? It is not a pro-choice or pro-life thing at all. It is the woman saying: ‘I want a baby but I don’t want a baby like that.’”

Only four babies were born in Oxfordshire this year with the condition compared with 12 in 2015.

The release of the figures comes as a recent report revealed that pregnant mothers who refuse to abort their children with Down’s syndrome are being pressured by some medical professionals to change their decision.

One mother, whose child is now three-years-old, said medical professionals told her they could leave her baby with Down’s syndrome to die if it was struggling after birth.

Another mum told how even at 38 weeks pregnant she was being offered an abortion. Currently, abortion for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot is legal right through to birth in England, Wales and Scotland, and 90% of babies with Down’s syndrome identified in the womb are aborted.

Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for Right To Life UK said:

“Our current law allows babies with Down’s syndrome to be aborted right through to birth. Already 90% of babies diagnosed in the womb with Down’s syndrome are aborted in the UK. The figures released today show that new non-invasive prenatal tests are likely to lead to even more babies who have Down’s syndrome being aborted. 

The Government should not be rolling out these tests if there is evidence that they are leading to more babies with Down’s syndrome being aborted. Now there is clear evidence this is the case, it’s time that the Government pulled the rollout.”

Lynn Murray, spokesperson for the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign said:

“As a mother of a 19-year-old daughter who has Down’s syndrome, I see every day the unique value she brings to our family and the positive impact she has on others around her.

The figures released today show that the fears of the Down’s syndrome community that rolling out these tests would lead to a large drop in the number of babies with Down’s syndrome were not unfounded.

We are calling on the Government to halt preparations to further roll-out the tests on the NHS immediately and to undertake an urgent inquiry into the impact that these tests are having on birth numbers of babies with Down’s syndrome. 

Press release – LibDem MP candidate who opposed sex-selective abortion deselected for wrong ‘values’

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LibDem MP candidate who opposed sex-selective abortion deselected for wrong ‘values’

Right To Life UK are calling on the Liberal Democrats to declare whether there is a place for candidates who oppose sex-selective abortion in their party, following former Stoke-on-Trent South MP, Rob Fello, being deselected as a candidate for having the wrong ‘values’. 

During his 12-years as MP, Rob Flello voted on three bills or amendments relating to abortion. Polling shows his positions on each of these issues are supported by the vast majority of women.

  • September 2011 – Supported a bill to give woman considering abortion a legal right to independent counselling from a source that has no financial interest in her decision.
  • February 2015 – Supported an amendment to ban sex-selective abortion.
  • March 2017 – Opposed a bill to introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth to the UK.
    • Polling shows only 1% support of the population support introducing abortion up to birth.

Rob Flello also opposed the introduction of assisted suicide to the UK. In 2015, 330 MPs joined Rob Flello in opposing a Bill to introduce assisted suicide, many of whom were Liberal Democrat MPs. Only 118 MPs supported that Bill which was voted down at second reading.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“We are now calling on the Liberal Democrats to declare whether there is a place for candidates who oppose sex-selective abortion and abortion up to birth in their party? How many LibDem MPs who voted with Rob Flello to oppose abortion up to birth and ban sex-selective abortion will be deselected for their wrong ‘values? These are not fringe viewpoints. These are views that polling shows the vast majority of the public and the vast majority of Liberal Democrat voters hold. 

ENDS

ComRes interviewed 2,008 British adults online between 12th and 14th May 2017. Data was weighted to be representative of all GB adults. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are here: https://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Where-Do-They-Stand-Abortion-Survey-Data-Tables.pdf

Updated NHS guidance on Down’s syndrome could save lives

Mothers of children with Down’s syndrome have praised the NHS for updating the language in its guidance to provide a more balanced account of those with the condition.

The updated advice could result in less disability-selective abortions as more pregnant women see the unique positive traits that shape children with Down’s syndrome.

Parents had previously criticised advice on NHS websites for its “endless lists of problems, risks and red flags”, urging the NHS to offer a more realistic overview on the condition from those who had first-hand experience. 

Campaigners have now thanked for the NHS for amending the advice which wasn’t due to be revised until April.  

In its new guide for parents, the NHS website says: “People with Down’s syndrome will have some level of learning disability. This means they’ll have a range of abilities.

“But, like everyone, people with Down’s syndrome have their own personalities, things they like and dislike and things that make them who they are.”

Prior to the change, the website focused a large part of its advice on the health conditions associated with Down’s Syndrome. It failed, however, to show that people with Down’s Syndrome can live a happy and prosperous life.

Another key area which was revamped was the section on screening for Down’s syndrome during pregnancy.

The page now has a bold yellow box with the words: “Important. It’s your choice whether or not to have any screening tests.”

Whereas previously, the guidance said: “If these tests show that your baby has Down’s syndrome, you and your baby’s other parent will be offered counselling so you can talk about what this means.”

“You may also be offered an appointment to meet a doctor or other health professional who works with children with Down’s syndrome.”

Screening tests for Down’s syndrome are offered to pregnant women at around 11 to 14 weeks of their pregnancy. While the tests cannot tell for certain if the baby has the syndrome, they can reveal how likely it is. 

Parents then, if they wish, can have further tests to find out for certain if their baby has Down’s syndrome. 

In England & Wales, government statistics show that where Down’s syndrome has been discovered in prenatal screening over 90% choose to abort the child.

British actress Sally Phillips, whose 15-year-old son has Down’s syndrome told MailOnline: “Myself, and many other members of the Down’s syndrome community, are absolutely thrilled with the updated information.

“The words are balanced, impartial, non-judgmental and thoughtfully written. It is so refreshing not to be immediately presented with a list of every single ‘problem’ or ‘challenge’ that you may (or most likely not) face.

“A link to real lived experience is perfect, as well as reminding the reader that people with Downs syndrome are individuals, shaped by their families and experience, just like anyone.

“When my son was born 11 years ago, I was presented with a very bleak future of unknowns and it made me see him as ‘Down’s syndrome’ instead of the beautiful baby he still was. It was very dehumanising.”

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down’s Syndrome Association, added: “We were delighted to have been working with NHS Digital over the last few months to update their information about Down’s syndrome.

“We put a tremendous amount of work into making sure the new resources are balanced, accurate and use the correct terminology.

“We have been very encouraged by the way in which NHS Digital has taken advice and consulted with us, and others across the community.

“They have spoken to individuals with Down’s syndrome and their families, and we feel the new resource captures the ‘lived experience’ very effectively and will undoubtedly be well used by anyone looking for good quality, up-to-date and balanced information.

“We are also pleased to be referenced as an organisation that can provide additional information, advocacy and support at all stages of life.”

The change in guidance is a welcome move but the Down’s syndrome community highlight there is still work to be done.

New research from Positive about Down syndrome revealed pregnant mothers who refuse to abort their children with Down’s syndrome are being pressured by some medical professionals to change their decision.

One mother, whose child is now three-years-old, said medical professionals told her they could leave her baby with Down’s syndrome to die if it was struggling after birth.

Another mum told how even at 38 weeks into her pregnancy she was being offered an abortion.

Disability advocacy group Don’t Screen Us Out are calling on the Government to urgently clarify that abortion for Down’s syndrome will not be introduced to Northern Ireland, after a newly launched consultation on abortion in the province suggested disability-selective abortion will be available, for any reason, up to birth.