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Down’s syndrome advocacy group condemn Jacinda Arden

Press Release – Saving Downs

Downs syndrome advocacy group condemn Jacinda Ardens pledge to introduce abortion up to birth for disabilitiesDown’s syndrome advocacy group condemn Jacinda Arden’s pledge to introduce abortion up to birth for disabilities

Down’s syndrome advocacy group Saving Downs have condemned a pledge from Labour leader Jacinda Arden to decriminalise abortion, introducing abortion right through to birth for disabilities.

Under the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act there is currently a gestational time limit of 20-weeks for abortion for disability.

In handful of jurisdictions that have decriminalised abortion – China, Vietnam, Canada and two states in Australia – gestational time limits for disability-selective abortions have been removed and abortion for babies with disabilities are available right up to birth.

The main group who have been lobbying for the introduction of the policy, the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand, have made it clear that they want to introduce abortion right up 40 weeks for children who have disabilities.

Arden’s proposed change to the law could also see New Zealand fall foul of international disability rights obligations, as the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has consistently criticised countries that provide for abortion in a way which discriminates on the basis of disability.

Already the majority of babies in New Zealand diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are screened out by termination and if this proposed policy became law it could put us on the path towards the situation in Iceland where close to 100% of babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted.

Mike Sullivan, head of Down’s syndrome advocacy group Saving Downs and father of Rebecca who has Down’s syndrome said:

“Thinking of my daughter, I can’t believe that in 2017 in Aotearoa, New Zealand we would see the Labour Party clamouring for the introduction of abortion through to birth for babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities.”

“This send a strong discriminatory message and a progressive New Zealand can do better for people with disabilities like my daughter than introducing abortion up to birth.

“Jacinda Ardern should be putting her focus on positive policy changes that will create a better future for people with disabilities and their families, and lead the world in showing how better information and support for parents with a prenatal disability diagnosis is the real and humane response to prenatal disability.”

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