Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Diversity and equality – but not for Down’s


REGARDING Heidi Crowter’s failed High Court challenge against an earlier ruling that the ‘barbarous’ Abortion Act does not discriminate in allowing babies with Down’s syndrome to be aborted up to birth while others are protected after 24 weeks in utero, Ann Widdecombe asks: ‘What is the difference between a child a few hours before and a few hours after birth? None, apart from visibility. What is the difference between a baby born prematurely and one of the same age and gestation in the womb? None, apart from visibility.’ 

She says that as Ms Crowter and her co-challengers pointed out, ‘it is unlawful in this country to discriminate on grounds of disability so how can there be a law which says you can kill a child capable of being born alive on exactly those grounds?’

Bizarrely, at the same time, other forms of diversity are celebrated and great care and attention is bestowed upon the rights of other minority categories; indeed, this ‘positive discrimination’ has resulted in the ‘trans’ campaign becoming so powerful that the leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, failed to support Labour MP Rosie Duffield when she was hounded for stating that ‘only women have a cervix’. 

While it is regarded as illegal and certainly politically unwise to say anything that might upset a burly and very vocal man in a dress, progressive politicians seem to show no such concern about a whole category of very small, weak human beings who can be legally killed for being disabled – even though disability is also a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equality Act. 

As Ann Widdecombe remarks, ‘We no longer use terms such as “handicapped” or “the disabled” but instead insist on the description of “people with disabilities” yet as our speech has grown more fastidious so our actions have grown more dismissive, to the point where the very right to life itself is denied’. She recalls the case of Maria Hinds, a baby with Down’s, who in 1988 ‘was taken by her mother to Canada for a heart operation, after British doctors refused one here’, citing, among other considerations, ‘economic viability’. Presumably this same criterion was applied at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, when many ‘economically unviable’ elderly and disabled people signed ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ orders handed out in blanket fashion. 

It seems that as long as we do not use the wrong words about ‘people with disabilities’, there will be no words of criticism when they are ‘terminated’ before birth in order to save money.   

It is certainly an exercise in hypocrisy continually to emphasise diversity and equality while quietly exterminating before birth those who through no fault of their own are different and unequal. As George Orwell says in 1984, ‘all are equal, but some are more equal than others’. And diversity, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder.

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Ann Farmer
Ann Farmer
Ann Farmer is the author of By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Movement (Catholic University of America, 2008).

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