Abortions for reasons of disability continue to mount in Scotland

By Dave Andrusko

Kudos to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) for alerting pro-lifers to the new statistics on abortion coming out of Scotland.

As NRL News Today has explained in prior posts, the status of abortion in United Kingdom –England, Scotland, and Wales–is covered by the 1967 Abortion Act. Alas, it includes an exception so expansive that it virtually swallows the rule.

Abortion is legal through the 24th week unless “there is substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.” This is called “Ground E,” for short.

It is only to state the obviously that the loophole is gigantic, and that babies prenatally diagnosed with nothing more serious than a cleft palate could be–and have been–aborted. Most often, however, the targeted category are babies with Down syndrome.

SPUC reports today that the new figures released earlier this week by the National Health Service in Scotland show the number of babies aborted under Ground E has increased 57% since 2011–from 136 to 216 in 2016.

What were the categories that make up that 216 figure? SPUC says

75 were for chromosomal abnormalities (such as Down’s syndrome), 51 for other specific congenital anomalies (such as of the cardiovascular or urinary systems), and 49 for congenital anomalies of the nervous system. Page 24 of the report suggests that the increase of abortions for conditions such as Down’s syndrome is due to the rise in screening programmes for foetal anomaly.

“The new figures show us that there’s a contradiction between our commitment to equality for the disabled and a women’s ‘right to choose,’” said John Deighan, the CEO of SPUC Scotland. “In Scotland, we rightly go to great lengths to accommodate people with a disability, yet as a society we are eradicating them before they are born, thus sending a bleak message to our disability community.”

But virtually all abortions were performed for social reasons. If you read page 22 of the National Health Service in Scotland report, you see not a single abortion was performed “to save the life of the woman” or to “prevent permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.”

SPUC’s summarized this as follows:

98.2 % of abortions were carried out under Ground C, “the pregnancy has not exceeded its 24th 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”, which is used for abortion on social grounds.

These alarming increases in the number of abortions under “Ground E” came out as Great Britain is grappling with the potential for a huge increase in the number of abortions of babies with Down syndrome.

NIPT [Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing ], a blood test which can detect genetic conditions among other things, will be offered to expectant mothers to screen for Down syndrome, Patau’s and Edwards’ syndromes if doctors already fear their baby has a higher than average risk. Despite waves of opposition from disability rights groups, pro-lifers, the ‘Don’t screen us out’ campaign, and ordinary parents, in October 2016 it was approved for use on the National Health Services.