Increase in abortion of disabled babies 'tragic'

(AP)

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has criticised the "double standard" in post-birth care for the disabled alongside abortions of unborn disabled babies.

The pro-life organisation said it was "tragic" that recent figures from the Department of Health revealed an increase in the number of abortions of disabled babies.

Figures show that abortions for suspected handicaps numbered 2,692 in the last year, an increase of nearly 300 on 2011, when there were 2,307 abortions on grounds of disability.

Abortions after 24 weeks were shown to have risen from 146 to 160, with 99 of these taking place after 26 weeks.

SPUC said the abortion of disabled babies was "offensive" and that the trend was worsening.

The organisation's education manager Anthony McCarthy said the rise could be attributed to an increase in the number of later-age pregnancies.

"Either way, the double-standard between post-birth care for the disabled and the NHS-funded elimination of the disabled before birth continues apace," he said.

A parliamentary report this week called for urgent reform of the Abortion Act to stop "discrimination against unborn children".

Section 1(1)(d) of the 1967 Abortion Act permits the termination of a pregnancy up to birth if there is a substantial risk of the baby being born with a serious disability.

The report was published by a cross-party commission headed by Fiona Bruce MP.  It urged Parliament to reduce the upper time limit for abortions on the grounds of disability to the same 24 weeks upper limit in place for non-disabled babies.

"Given the advances in medical science and the very positive changes in our attitudes towards disabled people since the relevant law was enacted over twenty years ago it is time to review it," said Mrs Bruce.

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