Wednesday 13 August 2008

David Cameron confirms he backs discrimination against unborn disabled babies (and Brown voted for it in 1990)

David Cameron confirmed this evening that he would not vote to reverse current discrimination against unborn disabled babies who can be aborted right up to birth since the law was changed by Parliament in 1990. Mr Cameron made a similar commitment in a Daily Mail interview earlier this year on which I blogged at the time.

I heard this news from Rachel and Bill Peck who attended a "Cameron Direct" Question and Answer Session this evening in Barrow-in-Furness. Rachel asked David Cameron. the Conservative leader, the following question: "In 1990 when Mrs Thatcher was Prime Minister the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act discriminated against the disabled by allowing disabled babies for the very first time to be aborted right up to full term. My question is: If in power would you favour measures to reverse this discrimination by giving unborn children who are disabled the same protection under the law as currently enjoyed by all other children?"

David Cameron answered: "A short answer first then a longer one. My personal view about that is no. I think abortion votes, and votes on embryology, and votes on all of those things should be free votes. They are matters of conscience and on the last embryology bill we’ve just had I pushed very hard (if you remember, the Prime Minister wanted to have whipped votes like they had whipped votes in the House of Lords) and I said this is wrong; this is a conscience issue; this is one where MP’s have got to examine their consciences, listen to their constituents, and explain their positions and it should always be a free vote. So it should always be a free vote. My own view is yes, I think that we should change the abortion limit down from 24 towards 20 weeks; I voted that way and I think it would be right to do that. But in the case of parents who have medical evidence that they may have a very disabled child, I would not want to change that. And I speak as someone, I mean, I’ve got a six year old boy who is severely disabled has cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic and he’s a sweet boy, he’s a lovely boy Ivan, and, you know, it is though incredibly tough bringing up disabled children and I don’t want to kind of put myself in the position of saying to other parents you’ve got to go ahead and have that child or you can’t have an abortion or you can do this or you can’t do that. Personally Ivan, he’s brought incredible things to my life but it is an enormous challenge and I don’t think it’s right to sort of tell other parents if you hear that you’ve got a very disabled child on the way, that actually doing something about it isn’t an option. That’s my view.”

Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, of course, voted three times for this discriminatory legislation in 1990. David Cameron was first elected to Parliament in June 2001.