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Open letter to Theresa May – Don’t Screen Us Out

Theresa May and her Government are this week considering whether to introduce legislation to change abortion law in Northern Ireland from Westminster. This change would likely introduce abortion for babies with Down’s syndrome right through to 28-weeks gestation.

 

The most recent figures In England and Wales show that 90% of babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted. Northern Ireland  has a very different approach to how it treats people with Down’s syndrome. Disability-selective abortion for Down’s syndrome is illegal and there is a culture of accepting and supporting 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 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 Theresa May’s Government goes ahead and introduces abortion for Down’s syndrome to Northern Ireland, this will likely see even more babies with Down’s syndrome in the UK screened out by termination.

 

If you are person with Down’s syndrome or have a family member with Down’s syndrome, please sign the open letter to Theresa May demanding that disability-selective abortion for Down’s syndrome, which will have such devastating consequences for our community, is not introduced to Northern Ireland.  

 

We know that there are many people within our community who are concerned about this change and have not been heard yet – this letter is your chance to be heard and to show the Government and Theresa May just how many people are seriously concerned about the proposed changes.

Dear Prime Minister, 

 

We are writing to you as people with Down’s syndrome and their families because we are know you are currently considering whether to introduce legislation to change abortion law in Northern Ireland from Westminster.

 

This change would introduce abortion for babies with Down’s syndrome right through to 28-weeks in pregnancy.

 

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.

 

Northern Ireland  has a very different approach to how it treats people with Down’s syndrome. Disability-selective abortion for Down’s syndrome is illegal and there is a culture of accepting and supporting 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 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 big 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.

 

In fact the original ammendment that called for the introduction for abortion for Down’s syndrome to Northern Ireland was only announced as ‘in scope’ half an hour before the Bill was being talked about being debated in Parliament and voted on only hours later, with no discussion whatsoever from Parliament about the impact that this will have on our community.

 

We now see that the current abortion ammendment that was passed in the Commons will not make changes to abortion law in Northern Ireland.

 

But now, we are very upset to hear that your Government have decided to alter this amendment and draft secondary legislation that will introduce abortion for Down’s syndrome to Northern Ireland.

 

This will be your Government’s legacy: taking direct steps to introduce a deeply discriminatory law to Northern Ireland that will allow for babies with Down’s syndrome to be chosen for abortion because they are found to have a disability. This is wrong because we know now that it’s ok to have a disability. 

 

So many babies with Down’s syndrome are already aborted in England, Wales and Scotland. If your Government goes ahead and introduces abortion for Down’s syndrome to Northern Ireland, this will likely see even more babies in the UK screened out by termination.

 

Theresa May, please do not turn a blind eye. This is a law that is being forced upon us, that 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 have a devastating impact on the community of people with Down’s syndrome.

 

We are asking that you ensure that selective abortion for Down’s syndrome, which will have such great consequences for our community, is not introduced to Northern Ireland. 

 

Theresa May, do you really want to look back at your time in Parliament and see one of your final acts being to introduce a change in law  that would be discriminating against our community and likely lead to many more babies with Down’s syndrome being aborted in a time of equality? We are writing to ask you not to  make this change. 

 

Theresa May, please do the right thing. Don’t screen us out.

SIGN THE OPEN LETTER NOW

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