Inquiry launched into disability-based abortions

Published 31 January 2013

A parliamentary inquiry into abortion on the grounds of disability has been launched by Conservative backbencher Fiona Bruce.

The legal limit for abortions is 24 weeks but current law permits abortions up to 40 weeks if tests indicate a baby may be born disabled.

The cross-party inquiry will examine "whether there is room for a review of this legislation bearing in mind both medical advances and advances in our attitudes to disability over recent years", Bruce said.

"The majority of the Commission have a particular interest in disability and we are keen to receive evidence from as many people as possible to enable a thorough analysis of the current law and practice," she said.

The inquiry will consult medical and legal experts, parents and disability groups with a view to assessing the impact of existing law on disabled people and their families.

It will consider whether differentiating between abortion on the grounds of disability and non-disability is discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010.

The commission will also assess the effectiveness of the information and guidance provided to families following the diagnosis of a disability.

Members of the commission include Lord McColl of Dulwich, Robert Buckland MP, Chair of the Autism All Party Parliamentary Group and Chair of the Conservative Human Rights Commission, Rob Flello MP, the Labour Shadow Justice Minister, Baroness Hollins President of the British Medical Association, and three time Paralympian Baroness Masham.

The final report from the commission is due to be published in May.

Virendra Sharma MP, Vice Chair of the inquiry and Chair of the Down's Syndrome All Party Parliamentary Group said at the launch, "We are entering this inquiry with open minds and are looking forward to receiving evidence from a wide range of different perspectives, with a particular focus on assessing the information and guidance provided to families following the diagnosis of a disability."

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