Another chance to be an Armchair Activist

alllogoWhile researching yesterday’s post, I came upon a campaign by a group I’d never heard of before, called We’re All Equal (Illustrating just how hard it is to Be Informed – I am passionate about this issue, and I follow on twitter and Facebook lots of other people and groups who are too, but I stumbled upon this more or less by chance)

They are raising awareness of the fact that abortion is legal up to the point of birth if the unborn child* is found to have a disability.

Lord Shinkwin has introduced a Private Member’s Bill into the House of Lords which, in their words, “would end this disability discrimination where it starts, before birth.”

On Friday this Bill passed the committee stage and will now go the the Report Stage. We’re All Equal are asking people to email their MP** to ask him or her to write to the Prime Minister to ask her to make sure sufficient Parliamentary time is given to the Bill so that it can get through all the Lords stages and make it to the Commons, where it can be debated and (hopefully) the discriminatory Section (1(1)(d)) of the 1967 Abortion Act, which allows for abortion on the grounds of disability up-to-birth, will be removed.

I know, it all sounds rather complicated. If you go to the website, though, there is a form email which explains it all nice and clearly (for both you and your MP!). This is the first step in what will be a long process (actually, it is the third step for the Bill, as this helpful page illustrates – seriously, how had I not heard of this before?!). I’ll try and remember to write further posts as I am aware of future stages, but if you follow me on twitter that’s where I’m most likely to share links and quick updates.

 

So there you go, opportunities to get involved and make your voice heard are all around. Keep your eyes open for more!

 

*Note – file this under ‘Be Alert‘ – if you pay attention you’ll notice that the campaign is very careful not to use the term ‘unborn child’ or indeed any term to relate to the person with the disability. You won’t find the words foetus, embryo, baby or child anywhere on their site. At least I couldn’t. This completely neutral language means that they are deliberately removing any barriers that would otherwise be raised – they want everyone to be able to support the campaign, whatever their view of the status of a preborn human is.

** If you don’t live in the UK, sorry, you can’t help us on this one, except by praying, which of course is key. Thanks!

2 Comments On This Topic
  1. MarianB
    on Jan 31st at 9:15 pm

    Hi Jennie, while I agree this needs to be debated especially with survival rates under 24 weeks increasing, I am concerned by the wording here. Abortion is not normally available after 24 weeks for disability– it is severe foetal abnormality or risk to the life of the woman. Hence the very small number each year. It may well be misused and there is certainly an argument for human rights, but accuracy is important to the debate. I also personally believe we need to fight for women to have truly equal reproductive choices, which they do not: poverty, lack of education and misogyny keep women from having free choice over their own sexual selves. Those of us from conservative Christian circles will sadly know this from within parts of the church– anyone ministering to women has seen it. So let’s also fight against poverty, ignorance and sexual coercion: When we do this there will be less demand for abortion, including of the differently abled.

    Reply
    • Jennie Pollock
      on Feb 1st at 11:59 am

      Hi Marian, thanks for your reply. Yes, I totally agree that accuracy is very important.

      The law states that:
      “… a person shall not be guilty of an offence under the law relating to abortion when a pregnancy is terminated by a registered medical practitioner if two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith—

      (a) that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family; or

      (b) that the termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; or

      (c) that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated; or

      (d) that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

      So the risk to the mother’s life is already covered elsewhere, and (d) is felt by many campaigners to be discriminatory. It is an incredibly difficult and complex topic, because many people would support the abortion of severely disabled babies out of a genuine belief that death would be better for them that life as a disabled person. They are motivated by compassion, but I think we need to listen to the voices of the disabled community who say that they prefer life.

      And yes, absolutely, we also need to be changing perceptions of women and disability, helping people get out of poverty, and all the other things you mentioned. Often people choose abortion because they feel it is the only possible option, and I want to be part of making a world where that is no longer the case.

      Thanks for your reply!

      Reply

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