Action alert – Ask your MP to support the Abortion (Cleft lip, cleft palate and club foot) Bill

Stand up and smile campaign

You may have seen this morning in a number of media outlets that a cross-party group of MPs from the three largest parties in the UK Parliament have come together to launch the Abortion (Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate and Clubfoot) Bill.

The Bill will change the law to clarify that cleft palate, cleft lip, and clubfoot are not grounds for abortion in the UK.

This morning we have launched the Stand Up and Smile campaign to support this Bill and raise awareness about the wider issue of abortion being allowed up to birth for babies with disabilities.

Please click the button below to visit the campaign page and ask your MP to support the Abortion (Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate and Clubfoot) Bill. It only takes 30 seconds.

Once you have emailed your MP, please do let friends and family know to email their MP.

If you receive a reply from your MP confirming whether they will support the Bill or not, it would be very helpful, if you are comfortable with sharing it with us, to send on the reply to us. This will help us with knowing which MPs support the Bill.

Thank you for your help on this.

Press release – Cross-party group of MPs bring forward Bill to clarify cleft lip, cleft palate and club foot not grounds for abortion

Stand up and smile campaign

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press release – Cross-party group of MPs bring forward Bill to clarify cleft lip, cleft palate and club foot not grounds for abortion

A cross-party group of MPs have come together to bring forward the Abortion (Cleft lip, cleft palate and club foot protection) Bill.

The Bill would change the law to clarify that cleft palate, cleft lip, cleft palate and lip, and club foot are not grounds for abortion in the UK. This would mean that abortions could not occur when the primary diagnosed condition is cleft palate, cleft lip, cleft palate and lip, and club foot. 

All of these conditions can be corrected. The main treatment to correct a cleft lip is an operation, which is usually done when a baby is 3 to 6 months, whereas an operation to repair a cleft palate is usually done at 6 to 12 months. Treatment for clubfoot is minimally invasive and is usually achieved using the Ponseti method.

The Bill is being led by Fiona Bruce MP. The issue is of personal significance to her, as her son was born with club foot.

Official abortion statistics for England and Wales show that abortions are happening on the grounds that a baby has one of these conditions. Due to underreporting these figures are likely significantly higher than what is being reported. 

Seventy-five babies with either a cleft lip or cleft palate as their principal condition were aborted between 2011 and 2018. Sadly, the figures are likely to be much higher, for example a 2013 review by Eurocat showed 157 babies were aborted for cleft lip and palate in England and Wales between 2006 and 2010. However, the Department of Health & Social Care (DoHSC) recorded only 14 such abortions.

While the Government are reluctant to release data on club foot terminations, data reported by Eurocat showed that 205 babies with club foot were aborted in England and Wales between 2006 and 2010.

There is no shortage of testimonials from individuals who have been diagnosed with cleft lip, cleft palate or club foot and were not held back, including Steven Gerrard, Joaquin Phoenix, Kristi Yamaguchi and Carmit Bachar.

Polling from SavantaComRes shows that only one in three people think it is acceptable to ban abortion for gender or race but allow it for disability. The support for allowing disability-selective abortion for conditions such as club foot, cleft lip and cleft palate is likely even lower.

Right To Life UK has today launched the Stand Up and Smile campaign and is encouraging members of the public to visit the campaign page at www.standupandsmile.org.uk where they can ask their MP to support the Bill.

Fiona Bruce MP, who is leading on the Bill and is MP for Congleton, said:

“The Bill will clarify that cleft lip, cleft palate and club foot are not grounds for abortion. This is a sensible law change that I am inviting all MPs, regardless of where they stand on the wider issue of abortion, to get behind and support. 

It’s now been 30 years since Parliament last properly reviewed our law on abortion for disability in 1990. It’s time our legislation caught up to reflect society’s positive change in attitudes towards those born with disabilities, and medical advances in the intervening years

My older son was born with a club foot. He had physiotherapy every day for the first year of his life and had two operations, but now no one would ever know, apart from the most experienced clinician in this field. So I know how such a condition can be corrected. It is hard to think that such a treatable disability could have deprived my son of life, which, now in his mid-20s, he lives to the full.

Being born with this condition has not held him back – rather the opposite. I think it has given him a depth of understanding about the value of every human life.

I am leading a cross-party group of MPs to bring this Bill forward because every child with one of these conditions deserves the same chance of life as my son. I also want to ensure that no parent has to go through any pressure to abort their baby for what is clearly a correctable condition.

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

“As a society, we should be empowering those with disabilities, and take great pride in the positive contribution they make to our country. To do this, we have a moral obligation to quash anything that perpetuates false and negative stereotypes towards those with a disability, and that is why we support the group of cross-party MPs who have brought forward this important Bill to help end disability-discrimination in the womb. 

People are shocked and horrified when they discover that abortion is permitted up to birth after the diagnosis of cleft lip, cleft palate, and clubfoot as the primary condition, believing it goes against the very fabric of what our country stands for today.   

Our abortion legislation is badly in need of reform to end this unjust discrimination, and we hope this Bill is successful in helping end this disability-discrimination.”

ENDS

Update and action alert for people living in Northern Ireland

The British Government have now brought forward rewritten abortion regulations for Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, they have only made some minor unsubstantial changes to fix some small drafting errors. So we are still dealing with the same extreme abortion regulations.

The new rewritten regulations will be voted on in the Commons and the Lords, we expect this to happen at some stage in June.

DOWN’S SYNDROME CAMPAIGNER’S BRAVE INTERVENTION

You may have read in the media about the brave intervention made by Heidi Crowter, the 24-year-old disability campaigner who has spoken out against the British Government imposing on Northern Ireland abortion up to birth in cases of disabilities like Heidi’s own, Down’s syndrome. This has been picked up in the media across the UK and also internationally including a very good segment from one of Sky News Australia’s key commentators.

Heidi has written to the Party Leaders at Stormont within the last week, asking them to take action and do everything they can to oppose abortion on the basis of disability up to birth. She said: “Please do not let a law come into practice which will end lives on the basis of disability and stop people like me coming into the world.”

TAKE ACTION

Now that the Assembly is meeting two days a week it’s vital for MLAs to press their Party Leaders and Chief Whips for time to be set aside for an urgent debate and vote on a motion that demonstrates to Heidi and other people with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, that Northern Ireland opposes any move to allow babies with Down’s syndrome to be aborted up until birth. 

While this will not change the law at this stage, it will send a very important message to the British Government and MPs who are due to vote on these regulations in June.

The British Government announced on 25 March that it was imposing on Northern Ireland abortion on the basis of disability up to birth. In the last week, the Assembly found time to debate Regulations relating to electric pedal cycles but still has not deemed it appropriate to find time to distance itself from the British Government’s extreme abortion regime which has been imposed on Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Assembly is the voice of the people of Northern Ireland. Their silence on this matter to date has been deafening. 

If you live in Northern Ireland, please click the button below to email your local MLAs asking them to seek an urgent debate and vote on a resolution on this matter. It only takes 30-seconds.

Thank you for your help on this.

Northern Ireland abortion regulations to be rewritten

The Government have announced that they will be rewriting the Northern Ireland abortion regulations which were going to be voted on by MPs tomorrow. This means that a vote on the regulations will not be happening tomorrow.

Many thanks to all of you who have emailed your MP on this issue, asking them to vote against the regulations.

Unfortunately, it is now expected that the Government will shortly re-table the regulations, with only minor unsubstantial changes. There will then be a further twenty-eight-day window for the Government to organise a vote on the regulations, meaning that we will be facing a vote on the regulations within that time period. 

Sadly abortions will still be able to happen in Northern Ireland throughout this period.

The positive development here is that this delay means that we now have more time to persuade MPs and Peers to reject the regulations ahead of a vote, so if you have not emailed your MP yet, please do so by clicking the button below. 

If you have emailed your MP, this extra time provides an opportunity for you to encourage more friends and family to write to their MPs.

Thank you for your help on this. We’ll be keeping you updated as the situation develops on this.