London, England, Jul 13, 2011 / 03:10 am (CNA).- After a long legal battle, abortion statistics released by the British government show a “shocking level of discrimination” against the disabled, pro-life groups said.
“Between 2001 and 2010, the number of abortions on the ground of disability rose by one-third, 10 times that of abortions generally. It is clear that legal abortion is a system which discriminates, fatally, against the disabled,” commented Anthony Ozmic, the communications director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.
The British Department of Health has released the numbers, gestational ages and types of disabilities of babies aborted between 2002 and 2010. In 2010, 482 babies with Down’s syndrome were aborted.
Sixty-six of the late abortions in 2010 were linked to nervous system problems such as spina bifida. No late-term abortions were carried out for cleft lip and palate, but seven were carried out before the legal limit of 24 weeks for this reason, the BBC reports.
Another 29 late abortions were carried out for chromosomal problems, including 10 for Down’s syndrome and 10 for Edward’s syndrome.
The ProLife Alliance characterized the effort to release the statistics as a “David and Goliath legal battle.” Its freedom of information request in February 2005 took six years to fulfill.
The alliance said that it is opposed to all abortion, but it added that the termination of babies who could survive outside the womb is “always particularly horrifying.”
“We have always argued that if these abortions are permitted under law, there should be no attempt whatsoever to hide details of the numbers or justifications,” the organization said July 4.
“(T)his is a great victory for transparency and freedom of speech and we are delighted that full information about the justification for late abortions is now being made available in the same detail as it was in 2001,” said Julia Millington, spokeswoman for the ProLife Alliance.
Her organization thanked former MP Ann Widdecombe and Prof. Stuart Campbell, who gave expert evidence in court on the organization’s behalf.
Until 2003 the British Department of Health published statistics on all late abortions. Its 2002 figures sparked an outcry when they showed one abortion targeted a baby with a cleft lip and palate, an easily reparable problem.
Pro-life groups said the rules were being flouted to weed out “less than perfect babies.” Anglican cleric Rev. Joanna Jepson, who was born with a jaw deformity, filed a complaint which resulted in a police investigation into whether the abortion was illegal.
Abortion on “social” grounds is legal only in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. The 1967 Abortion Act, which applies to Scotland and England and Wales, makes it legal to abort an unborn child up to birth if there is a substantial risk of “serious” physical or mental abnormality.
One of the doctors involved in the 2002 cleft palate abortion was identified by journalists in 2004 using public information, causing concerns that the identity of the patient could also be revealed.The Health Department in 2003 decided no longer to reveal detailed information on late abortions where procedures involving certain medical conditions numbered less than 10.
In the summer of 1939, the parents of a severely deformed child wrote to Hitler seeking his permission for their child to be put to death. Hitler approved this, and authorized the creation of the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of Serious Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses (Reichsausschuss zur wissenschaftlichen Erfassung erb- und anlagebedingter schwerer Leiden), headed by Karl Brandt, his personal physician, and administered by Herbert Linden of the Interior Ministry and an SS officer, Viktor Brack. Brandt and Bouhler were authorized to approve applications to kill children in similar circumstances.
|This poster (from around 1938) reads:|
"60,000 Reichsmarks is what this person suffering from a hereditary disease
costs the People's community during his lifetime.
Comrade, that is your money too.
This precedent was used to establish a program of killing children with severe disabilities from which the 'guardian' consent element soon disappeared. From August, the Interior Ministry required doctors and midwives to report all cases of newborns with severe disabilities. Those to be killed were "all children under three years of age in whom any of the following 'serious hereditary diseases' were 'suspected': idiocy and Down syndrome (especially when associated with blindness and deafness); microcephaly; hydrocephaly; malformations of all kinds, especially of limbs, head, and spinal column; and paralysis, including spastic conditions". The reports were assessed by a panel of medical experts, of whom three were required to give their approval before a child could be killed.
Hitler was in favour of killing those whom he judged to be "unworthy of life". In a 1939 conference with health minister Leonardo Conti and the head of the Reich Chancellery, Hans Lammers, a few months before the euthanasia decree, Hitler gave as examples of "life unworthy of life" severely mentally ill people who he believed could only be bedded on sawdust or sand because they "perpetually dirtied themselves", or who "put their own excrement into their mouths, eating it and so on"
People with severe disabilities, even when sterilized, still needed institutional care. They occupied places in facilities which, during war, would be needed for wounded soldiers and people evacuated from bombed cities. They were housed and fed at the expense of the state, and took up the time of doctors and nurses. The Nazis barely tolerated this even in peacetime, and few would continue to support allowing it in wartime. As a leading Nazi doctor, Dr. Hermann Pfannmüller, said: "The idea is unbearable to me that the best, the flower of our youth must lose its life at the front in order that feebleminded and irresponsible asocial elements can have a secure existence in the asylum".