Selective Abortion of Down Syndrome Babies Rises in UK

Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua (back) plays with her baby Gammy, born with Down Syndrome, at the Samitivej hospital, Sriracha district in Chonburi province on August 4, 2014. The surrogate mother of a baby reportedly abandoned by his Australian parents in Thailand because he has Down Syndrome was a "saint" …
NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images

The number of Irish babies with Down syndrome aborted in England rose by 60 percent in just one year, from 17 in 2018 to 27 in 2019, the Iona Institute reports.

Since abortion was legalized in Ireland in January 2019, the number of abortions performed on Irish women in the UK in 2019 dropped by over 650 percent last year, but this did not curb the number of Down syndrome babies being aborted. On the contrary, that figure rose, mainly because British law allows abortion up to birth of babies suspected of having Down syndrome.

The UK’s Department for Health and Social Care released its official abortion figures for 2019 on June 11, revealing the highest number of abortions in the country’s history. According to the report, 209,519 abortions were performed in England and Wales during the 2019 calendar year, the highest number ever.

Commenting on the report, Dr. Angelo Bottone noted that of Irish women who terminated their pregnancies in England and Wales in 2019, 64 percent were single and 17.3 percent had had a previous abortion.

While abortions performed on Irish women for reasons of the “physical or mental health” of the mother decreased from 97 percent of the total to 83 percent, reasons of a child suspected of being seriously handicapped increased from three percent to 17 percent. The reason for this, Bottone notes, is that later term abortions (after 12 weeks) are still illegal under Irish law, and non-life-threatening conditions (such as Down Syndrome) are often discovered later on in a pregnancy.

Babies with Down syndrome are targeted for abortion worldwide, leading many associations of disabled persons to support legislation that would prohibit such selective abortions.

Earlier this year, English actress Sally Phillips came out in opposition to the British law that allows the aborting of Down syndrome babies up to birth, while those with no “serious disabilities” are protected after 24 weeks.

Allied to the organization “Don’t Screen Us Out,” Phillips has been pushing for a change to the 1967 Abortion Act to protect unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome from being exterminated.

“Given advances in medical care and quality of life for people with Down’s syndrome, the different right to life is beginning to look not just dated but barbaric,” said Phillips, whose son Ollie has the condition.

Phillips hosted a 2016 BBC documentary titled, “A World Without Down Syndrome?” that questioned the justification for a controversial UK pregnancy screening program indicating the presence of Down syndrome in unborn babies.

“In the last ten years, the number of people terminating for Down syndrome has gone up by 40 percent,” Phillips noted at the time. “Now nine out of ten British women terminate when they receive a positive diagnosis.”

As a result, there are only some 40,000 people with Down syndrome left in the UK.

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