Ability and the Right to Life

In Britain, abortion is legal up to birth where a baby has a disability.  This goes completely against our normal approach to disability rights. If a government legislates for abortion in the case of disability, they are making a judgment on someone else’s life. They are saying that people with disability’s do not have the equal right to life. We are also hearing more and more of the pressure parents are put under to abort their baby who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. A truly life-affirming society works towards giving all necessary supports to children with special needs and terminal illnesses and their families.

Is it not more compassionate to end a baby’s life if we know they are going to die anyway when they are born?

Finding out that your baby will not live long past birth is a heartbreaking experience for parents. Baby’s who are diagnosed with a life limiting condition like this are often described as having a “fatal foetal abnormality” or as a baby’ who is “incompatible with life”. These terms are very misleading as the reality is that doctors have no way of knowing how long the baby will live for. Some babies diagnosed prenatally with a life limiting condition will live months and even years after birth. Studies have reported over 70% live births for babies conceived with anencephaly. There has been cases of misdiagnosis and babies thought to have a life limiting condition were born perfectly healthy.

We must really ask ourselves what is the truly compassionate response in this situation. More and more there is added pressure on parents to end their unborn baby’s life because they have a terminal illness. We hear of parents who return home after having an abortion to learn for the first time about the existence of perinatal hospice care as an alternative to abortion.

Is there any support for these parents who find out their baby is terminally ill?

Our government must give Healthcare professionals more resources to provide palliative care so as to help the families spend precious time with their baby.

The parents in One Day More work in solidarity to cherish the lives of their terminally ill children for the short time they are alive. These parents offer support for other parents who receive the news that their baby is terminally ill.

Watch this video on baby Eliot’s short life

Baby Eliot was born with Edward’s Syndrome or Trisomy 18. He had an undeveloped lung and a hole in his heart. He lived for 99 days. His father Matt filmed his short but special life.

What will happen if abortion is made legal for baby’s with life limiting conditions?

Where abortion is made legal in these circumstances, it soon becomes the only option. For example, in Britain if parents receive a poor pre-natal diagnosis they are handed an NHS booklet which details what is involved in the abortion procedure.

Won’t the abortion be restricted to just terminally ill babies?

Once we say ok to abortion for baby’s with terminal illness then this will soon open the door, as it has in other countries, to aborting babies with varying degrees of disability. We have seen this in the UK where 90% of babies with Down syndrome are aborted. In 2014, 925 babies with Down Syndrome were aborted in England and Wales.  The figures are similar for babies diagnosed with Spina Bifida.