Well, this is actually true

This is discriminatory and could well be thought of as in breach of the Disabilities Act:

Allowing pregnancy terminations up to birth if the foetus has Down’s syndrome is discriminatory and stigmatises disabled people, the high court has heard.

Heidi Crowter, a 26-year-old woman with Down’s syndrome from Coventry, Máire Lea-Wilson, 33, and her son Aidan, who has Down’s syndrome, who both live in Brentford, west London are challenging Sajid Javid over the Abortion Act 1967. The act sets a 24-week time limit for abortions unless there is “substantial risk” of the child being “seriously handicapped”.

The three argue it is discriminatory, interferes with the right to respect for private life in article 8(1) of the European convention on human rights (ECHR), including the decision to become or not to become a parent and “rights to dignity, autonomy and personal development of all three claimants”.

The big question is, well, OK, and so?

There’s a certain moral clarity to that American who said “It’s murder and I say it’s great!” just as there is to the no, nay, never crowd like me. For all the normal peeps we end up with a certain clash here. Yes, the current abortion laws do discriminate against the disabled, we also think that discrimination against the disabled is a bad thing. So, who wins here?

21 thoughts on “Well, this is actually true”

  1. How can permitting people the decision to become or not to become a parent “interfere with the decision to become or not to become a parent”? If you don’t want your seriously-handicapped baby aborted then don’t.

  2. There’s also the foetal viability position, which is the basis of how we get 20 weeks. Which has some reasonable logic to it.

    Unfortunately, if you back that, you also have to want to ban abortions of children with Down’s Syndrome after that point, because they’re now technically individuals with rights, not a part of the mother. Later terminations of Down’s Syndrome is ethically similar to what people did in the past, of leaving their babies in the woods to die.

  3. A logical response, probably in line with Guardian thinking, is to allow abortions up ’till birth in all cases. No more discrimination. The claimants’ “people call me mong because of the Abortion Act 1967” argument is weak. I’d throw it out on that. They could try a “the cousin-marrying community doesn’t get pressured to abort” approach but would risk losing the Guardianistas.

    “I want Aidan to grow up knowing he’s not someone people have to cope with, he’s not a burden to society, he is a wonderful human being in his own right.”

    It’s just wishful thinking.

  4. I wish mothers wouldn’t abort their children, but I’m not a mother. Nor are the people bringing this case the future mother(s) of Down’s babies. So maybe they should butt out.

    Down’s babies are actually very sweet, though obviously looking after them is difficult and the parent can have no dreams of a great future for the child.

    What would we do if we had a reliable in utero test for criminal psychopathy?

  5. “a reliable in utero test for criminal psychopathy?”

    Reduce the number of future Cabinet Ministers?

  6. I do hope we withdraw from the “European convention on human rights”. First because it is logical nonsense, there being no such thing as human rights, and secondly because it’s just the sort of outsiders-interfering-with-us that I’d like to see the back of. We should learn to stand on our own two feet, including making and correcting our own mistakes.

    “is discriminatory …”: well of course it is, that’s the whole bloody point.

    “and stigmatises disabled people”: oh balls. “Stigmatises” is such a lazy, self-indulgent expression. It would be wonderful if people were routinely kind to disabled people – maybe they usually are. I doubt if the courts are the way to encourage that.

    Pointing out that it’s possible for various desirable things not to be mutually compatible is the sort of stuff with which some conservative political philosophy deals. It contrasts with liberal (our sense, not the American) political opinion which tends to assume that a whole shopping list of desirable things will never clash: liberty, equality, fraternity, for instance.

  7. Another angle to attack it on is the definition of ‘“substantial risk” of the child being “seriously handicapped”’

    Downs Syndrome can cover a wide spectrum, some are seriously handicapped others can carry on normal lives (but perhaps at the lower academic range). I don’t have the data as to where the ‘average’ baby identified by the Downs Syndrome test sits but I imagine the mean is below seriously handicapped.

    The second factor is that since the 1960s there have been massive improvements in both medical care, but also social care. With provisions like respite care, specialist schools, resedential units, internet support groups etc the criteria to be considered ‘seriously handicapped’ has surely become tougher to meet. Indeed one of the key drivers lowering the abortion limit is because medical advances mean that a child born that prematurely are no longer at a ‘substantial risk’ of death or being ‘seriously handicapped’

  8. it doesn’t make any sense what they’re trying to achieve here. The problems described in the article are not caused by the law, but by individuals and institutions discriminatory treatment of disabled people.
    I don’t think a good way to champion the rights of the disabled is to force parents to raise a severely disabled child when they are not ready, prepared or capable of doing so.
    In fact, denying someone the right to an abortion in these cases, is actually infringing their ‘decision to become or not to become a parent’, one of the actual things the claimants are trying to uphold

  9. With provisions like respite care, specialist schools, resedential units, internet support groups etc the criteria to be considered ‘seriously handicapped’ has surely become tougher to meet.

    Requiring respite care, specialist schools and residential units might be regarded as criteria to being considered seriously handicapped.

  10. First because it is logical nonsense, there being no such thing as human rights

    Idk, are there not some natural rights pertaining to human beings?

    The right not to be murdered, tortured, or have your property stolen, for example. I think a bunch of clever blokes in wigs or togas have been musing on that since the days when writing was a cool new fad.

  11. . . . are there not some natural rights pertaining to human beings?

    No, there are only imagined, i.e. pretend, “rights” pertaining to human beings.

    The right not to be murdered, tortured, or have your property stolen, for example.

    Humans throughout history, let alone prehistory, have been murdered, tortured and had their possessions taken. That’s the natural way of humans. Strenuous, extraordinary efforts have been made toward our current unnatural state of affairs. Codifying the pretence of “rights” has been integral.

  12. Humans throughout history, let alone prehistory, have been murdered, tortured and had their possessions taken.

    Yes.

    That’s the natural way of humans

    No, it’s the natural way of beasts. We have, as thinking animals, a more or less natural understanding of the difference between right and wrong (and even dogs have a crude and growly concept of property) and throughout history and probably prehistory human beans have pretty consistently understood murder and theft to be bad things. The existence of shoplifting doesn’t mean that shoplifting isn’t wrong, for example.

    If there is such a thing as good and evil that exists independently of human desires, exigencies, moods, tastes and fashions, seems reasonable to assume there’s some corresponding rights. Those rights may or may not be worth the parchment they’re inscribed on, but I don’t think everyone from the Zoroastrians to Locke were barking up the wrong tree entirely – if we are men and not beasts, there is something about this whole consciousness lark that sets us apart from buzzards, blowflies, and the Belgians.

    The word “holy” has ancient roots, long predating Christianity, and means something like “that which should not be transgressed or violated”. No sparrowhawk or squirrel has ever gone on record as having formulated such an idea, but it made sense to the ancient Saxons, Greeks and Jews. Perhaps because human consciousness itself is “sacred”. We are more than mere beasts, even though our bestial heritage is never very far away.

    So. If it’s wrong to sell granny to a glue factory, surely she has something we can call a right not to be sold to a glue factory? Human rights, if they exist at all, would be an emergent property of morality. If so, the Nuremberg trials were not merely an example of might making right (though they were that too), but an application, however crude, of universal justice.

    QES (quot erat stevonstrandum)

  13. I am a bit puzzled about how these claimants have standing in this case. They do not suffer any disadvantage that can be remedied. It’s not like it makes abortions compulsory. The only way I can see someone having standing would be if a mother intends to have an abortion and the claimant is either the father or claims to represent the foetus.

  14. We have, as thinking animals, a more or less natural understanding of the difference between right and wrong . . . and throughout history and probably prehistory human beans have pretty consistently understood murder and theft to be bad things.

    Yes, what we call our morality (that natural understanding) comes from within. As evolved social animals we’ve developed shared behavioural characteristics that benefit the troupe / tribe. But murder and theft are complicated. They’re generally not beneficial within the troupe / tribe, but they’re likely to be beneficial pointed at other troupes / tribes. So murder and theft, perhaps the most basic naughties, continue, switched on and off and called different names as passions and pragmatisms incline.

    If there is such a thing as good and evil that exists independently of human desires, exigencies, moods, tastes and fashions . . .

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9761903/Girl-dragged-abandoned-house-shot-tribe-honour-killing-Syria.html

    Was she good or evil? Were they good or evil? Am I good or evil for wanting to shoot them in the back of the head?
    We should protect the three week blob in the womb but drown the fuckers coming across the channel in boats?

    It’s all desires, exigencies, moods, tastes and fashions. Nobody has any “rights” except those imagined and granted by the ever changing collective.

  15. @ Steve
    There *are* such things as human duties, which are designed to prevent human beings from getting murdered, tortured or having their property stolen. See Exodus chapter 20.
    There cannot be any “rights” without the burden of duties on all other humans.

  16. Man is a social animal: his rights and duties stem from the society of which he is part. Spartans killed helots: that was one of a Spartan’s social duties. Thomas Jefferson kept slaves; that was his social right in the colony of Virginia and in the USA.

    Martin Luther King talked about Civil Rights, meaning – I think – social rights as codified in law.

    You get no rights solely by virtue of being human.

  17. Rights are dependent upon others following obligations.

    In this case if you were effectively forced to have a disabled child shouldn’t there be an obligation on the state to support that child, either in you raising it or in being able to hand the child over to the state to care for. Queue shrieks of callous parents etc….

  18. Also they are trying to ban testing so that you don’t know until the child is born which strikes me as very unfair as you should if keeping the child be allowed to prepare emotionally or otherwise

    I can see it backfiring as it might lead to more abortions with high risk factor mothers who don’t want to take the chance just deciding to abort anyway within the allowed limit

  19. The present law seems reasonable to me. After all, the parents may not wish to undertake the burden of rearing a Downs syndrome child.

    But of course I also support the right of someone to commit suicide, despite the obvious possibilities for abuse. But I suspect that when they’re holding me down and about to inject the drug, while saying, ‘But you said you wanted to get the chop when it got this bad’, I might have a different attitude.

  20. Boganboy,

    “The present law seems reasonable to me. After all, the parents may not wish to undertake the burden of rearing a Downs syndrome child.”

    It’s only reasonable if a parent can kill also Down’s Syndrome child who is 2 years old. If the abortion term is truly based on foetal viability, that beyond 20 weeks, this is now a person independent of the mother, the mother no longer has the rights to terminate the pregnancy any more than they do to take a baby out to the woods and leave it there.

    And if a mother has a right to decide that a Down’s Syndrome baby is too much of a burden, why not any other baby after 20 weeks? The boyfriend decides to fuck off back to Turkey at 21 weeks, why shouldn’t the mother terminate?

  21. john77 touches on it. Steve, you’re conflating “rights ” with obligations. It’s all the mutual obligations we enter into that hold a culture together. Obligations & the enforcement of them is what produces civilisation, A “right” without the matching obligation is meaningless. Try telling a man with an axe your have a right not to be murdered. You depend on his recognising his obligation not to go around axing people, when he might wish to.
    So there really isn’t a “right to life” in the abortion debate. The foetus is not in the position of pleading its case. It comes down to what people think about their obligations to the unborn. And there’s never going to be agreement about that because it depends on how much the particular individual is going to be liable for discharging the obligations. It’s very easy to dump obligations on other people when you don’t have to suffer the consequences, just to feel good about your own morality.

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