Westminster moves to outlaw abortion over disability could open new debate

In the UK, discrimination on the grounds of disability is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010. But, according to Lord ­Shinkwin, ­discrimination against disabled people is still widespread, is even “enshrined in law” and has become “normalised”.

Between 2005 and 2015, there was a 68 per cent increase in abortions on the grounds of disability in the UK and from 1995 to 2005, a 143 per cent increase in terminations for Down Syndrome specifically. Lord Shinkwin, who is disabled himself, has called this “a stark anomaly” and “an inconsistency in the law”. His Bill seeks to ­abolish the section of the Abortion Act 1967 which cites as a reason for termination “that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or ­mental abnormalities as to be ­seriously handicapped”.

Since his Bill is intended to be ‘moderate’ and ‘reasonable’, it has gained support from a number of other Lords. For example, the Lord Bishop of Bristol emphasised that the Bill’s focus “is the principle of ­disability equality, not some underhand attempt to ?limit women’s access to abortion”.