British children are being aborted in record numbers for relatively minor conditions, according to recent statistics, confirming fears that more and more parents want only “perfect babies”. In the UK, abortions can be performed up to birth if a child has a “serious handicap”, a rubbery provision which does not exist in other countries. It was intended to spare women from the trauma of giving birth to babies who were likely to die in their infancy, but it is now being used for conditions like club foot and cleft palate.
According to the London Times, between 1996 and 2004, 20 babies were aborted in advanced pregnancy because of club foot and another four because they had webbed fingers or an extra digit. All these condition are easily corrected. One doctor in the north of England discovered that an abortion had been performed in his hospital because a child was missing a hand. “The father did not want the pregnancy to proceed because of his perception that the child would not be able to do all the usual things like sport,” he said.
The problem is even more acute with Down’s syndrome, according to the London Telegraph. Since 2003, the National Health Service has offered a screening service to all 760,000 women in the UK who fall pregnant. As a result, 62% of Down’s syndrome children are detected in the womb and 92% of these are aborted. This is a case of “overt eugenics”, says Nuala Scarisbrick, of the lobby group Life. “There are human rights for everybody unless you are disabled in some way.”
Furthermore, the incidence of Down’s syndrome is rising, because the number of women who have children in their 40 has doubled over the last ten years. Abortions for the condition have reached record levels. The Down’s Syndrome Association says that despite the fact that great progress has been made in prenatal medicine, many doctors are still ignorant of what life is like for handicapped children and their families.
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