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David Cameron on disability, termination and parental choice

Posted in Politics, Statistics, Termination by Matt at WelcometoIllinois on August 17, 2008

Conservative party leader David Cameron has an annoying habit of saying things that I agree with, this time on the issue of parents’ right to choose to terminate the pregnancy of a disabled child.

Cameron, whose son has cerebral palsy, declined an invitation to voice his support for ‘reversing the discrimination’ against unborn children who are disabled at a public event, according to this report in the Daily Mail.

Cameron has supported attempts to reduce the abortion limit for healthy babies to 20 weeks from the current 24 but evidently feels that when it comes to disability potential parents should retain the rights to choose beyond 24 weeks.

“I am speaking as someone, I mean, I’ve got a six-year-old boy who is severely disabled, has cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic and he’s a sweet boy, he’s a lovely boy,” the Mail quotes him as saying.

“It is though incredibly tough bringing up disabled children and I don’t want to kind of put myself in the position of saying to other parents you’ve got to go ahead and have that child or you can’t have an abortion or you can do this or you can’t do that.”

The current law in Britain permit abortions up to 39 weeks if tests show the baby is likely to be seriously handicapped. It does not, however, define what is considered a “serious” disability and late abortions have reportedly been performed for club foot or cleft palate.

Although this lack of definition is troubling, I agree with David Cameron’s position on this. As I previously stated: “After a lot of thought we decided to continue with our pregnancy but we very nearly didn’t and I would respect the rights of anyone to make their own decision given their individual circumstances. It was the right decision for us, but that doesn’t make it the right decision full stop.”

The Daily Mail’s report also contains some stats related to abortion rates in the UK:

“Last year, there were more than 200,000 abortions in England and Wales, up from 175,000 in 2002.

More than 95 per cent are carried out for so-called ‘social’ reasons.

Some 2,000 abortions a year are on grounds of disability. Of these, more than 100 are performed after 24 weeks.

In one region, the South West, 117 babies with club feet, cleft palates, or webbed or extra fingers and toes were aborted between 2002 and 2005.

Across the country, more than 400 pregnancies a year are terminated because of Down’s syndrome.”

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6 Responses

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  1. Rickismon said, on August 18, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    What I don’t get AT ALL is why things that are FIXABLE are a reason for abortion? Webbed fingers can be fixed. So can cleft palette. And I suspect, most cases of clubfoot.
    (I personally am against abortion, but I REALLY can’t understand this///).

    People really think their kids have to be perfect???!!!??? Boy, will they be in for a surprise when their “perfect” child turns out to have a mind of their own. Are THEY so perfect?

  2. welcometoillinois said, on August 19, 2008 at 8:02 am

    I think this is an issue where most people – both pro-choice and pro-life – would agree that if the “problem” is fixable then termination is not really justifiable. I don’t think I know anyone who would disagree with that. And yet there are obviously a great many people out there who would. Whether they woul;d admit it is another matter I guess.

  3. Tim Jeffries said, on August 19, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    I don’t understand it either. I think it’s just a greater example of how our society wants to control everything and not deal with the reality of our imperfection. Personally I find it sad, so much life and potential lost.

  4. Andrew Brereton said, on August 23, 2008 at 10:54 am

    As the father of a little boy who suffered profound brain injuries, who sadly passed away four years ago, I find Mr cameron’s views to be nothing short of monstrous.

    There are several important points where Mr Cameron’s argument is fallacious; – they are as follows.

    * This position presumes that people with disabilities are lesser human beings with fewer human rights than the rest of us. Mr Cameron’s view would mean effectively that these ‘lesser human beings’ could simply be ‘put down.’ What kind of ‘master race’ mentality is this?
    * Although I agree that if it can be independently determined that a child is going to spend a life of pain and suffering, ocassionaly, this might be the correct solution, the question is, can we accurately detrmine this? Medical people have a nasty habit of making mistakes, that is how many childhood disability issues are caused, (Shall we terminate doctors who make these errors perhaps?), so are they to be relied upon to make an accurate judgement of a child’s future? I think not.
    * Quality of life is a subjective measure. What might seem to be an unacceptable quality of life to you or me, might have a completely different perspective from the point of view of the person whose life it is! Who is qualified to judge? – Certainly not I!
    * Mr Cameron’s proposal that disabled children could be aborted as late as thirty-nine weeks is simply monstrous and is tantamount to cold blooded murder.

    All life is sacred. All people, no matter what difficulties they face, are valuable human beings. We cannot utilise our own subjective judgements to determine which people are allowed to survive and which people are not.

  5. welcometoillinois said, on August 25, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    I appreciate your position Andrew and there are no simply answers here, but you seem to have very strong convictions about when a fetus should be considered a human being that not everyone would share. Disabled children being aborted up to 39 weeks is not David Cameron’s proposal it is the current law in the UK

  6. […] with cerebral palsy. You don’t see him going out of his way to pro-disability issues. As he proved recently, he is a pragmatist on that issue. When it comes to legislation, political interests tend […]


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