fbpx
 

Open letter to Northern Ireland politicians – Equally Valued

The Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill has been introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The bill seeks to amend the current Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No.2) Regulations 2020 to no longer allow unborn babies with a ‘serious fetal impairment’ (SFI) to be aborted to term. This bill would not amend the law in cases of “fatal fetal abnormality” (FFA).

 

Currently under the Northern Ireland regulations, abortion is legal up to birth based solely on a primary diagnosis of disabilities such as Down’s syndrome, cleft palate, cleft lip or club foot. This new bill proposes that non-fatal disabilities are not grounds for abortion in Northern Ireland and that the current law is discriminatory against those with such disabilities. 

 

The most recent figures in England and Wales show that 90% of babies found to have Down’s syndrome are aborted. 

 

Before the British Government imposed the new disability abortion provision, Northern Ireland had a very different approach to how it treated people with Down’s syndrome. 

 

Disability-selective abortion for Down’s syndrome was not permitted and there was a more positive culture of accepting people with disabilities rather than eliminating them out.

 

We can see this in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland. They show that there were 52 children with Down’s syndrome born in Northern Ireland. In the same year, only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales.

 

So many babies found to have Down’s syndrome are already selectively terminated in England, Wales and Scotland. If this discriminatory provision is not removed, we will likely see even more babies in the UK screened out by termination.

 

If you are a person with Down’s syndrome or have a family member with Down’s syndrome, please sign the open letter to the Northern Ireland party leaders asking them to support the Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill.

 

We know that there are many people within our community who are concerned about the change in law that happened last year and have not yet been heard – this letter is your chance to be heard and to let the Northern Ireland party leaders know just how many people are seriously concerned about this discriminatory provision and the need for an urgent change to ensure that babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome are not singled out for abortion.

Dear Arlene Foster, Mary Lou McDonald, Colum Eastwood, Steve Aiken, Naomi Long, Clare Bailey and Jim Allister,

 

We are writing to you as people with Down’s syndrome and their families, asking for your parties to support the Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill which has been introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly. 

 

The bill seeks to amend the current Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No.2) Regulations 2020 to no longer allow unborn babies with a ‘serious fetal impairment’ (SFI) to be aborted to term. This bill would not amend the law in cases of “fatal fetal abnormality” (FFA).

 

Currently under the Northern Ireland regulations, abortion is legal up to birth based solely on a primary diagnosis of disabilities such as Down’s syndrome, cleft palate, cleft lip or club foot. This new bill proposes that non-fatal disabilities are not grounds for abortion in Northern Ireland and that the current law is discriminatory against those with such disabilities. 

 

The most recent figures in England and Wales show that 90% of babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted. Also, over the last 10 years, there has been a 42% increase in abortion for babies who have Down’s syndrome.

 

Before the British Government imposed the new disability abortion provision, Northern Ireland had a very different approach to how it treated people with Down’s syndrome. Disability-selective abortion for Down’s syndrome was not permitted and there was a more positive culture of accepting people with disabilities rather than eliminating them out.

 

We can see this in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland. They show that there were 52 children with Down’s syndrome born in Northern Ireland. In the same year, only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales.

 

No one has talked to us about this change in the law. There has been no consultation with the community of people with Down’s syndrome and their families. Yet, it will have a very big impact on the community of people with Down’s syndrome, not only in Northern Ireland, but in all of the United Kingdom.

 

This deeply discriminatory provision allows babies with Down’s syndrome to be singled out for abortion simply because they are found to have the condition. This seems archaic in a culture where we embrace our differences and treat people with disabilities as equal.

 

So many babies with Down’s syndrome are already aborted in England, Wales and Scotland. If this discriminatory provision is not removed, we will likely see even more babies in the UK screened out by termination.

 

This is a law imposed without consultation or ethical consideration, and would likely lead to a big increase in abortion for disability in Northern Ireland, and would reduce the numbers of our already very small community. This is discrimination and will likely have a devastating impact on the community of people with Down’s syndrome.

 

We are writing to ask you to act to ensure that all people in Northern Ireland are equally valued, by your parties supporting the Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill.

SIGN THE OPEN LETTER NOW

    Title

    First name *

    Second name *

    Email *

    Telephone number

    Postcode *

    Please confirm whether you have Down’s syndrome yourself, have someone in your family with Down's syndrome or are simply a general supporter of the letter?

    Please confirm whether you are happy for us to provide updates on our work via email?

    Please confirm whether you would be willing to provide a comment to the media on this issue?

    By pressing send I understand that my title, first name, and last name will be added to a public letter and that my data may be retained for the purpose of monitoring. More information: Privacy Policy.