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Welcome to UK’s
campaign for equality

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We’re

all equal

We’re all equal. That’s what the law says, isn’t it?

Discrimination on the grounds of disability was made illegal 20 years ago when Parliament passed the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.  So it can’t happen. Right?

Wrong. It’s happening now. Today. It is the law.

Legal and lethal discrimination on grounds of disability has been a reality for almost 50 years. And it’s going to stay that way unless people like you help change the law and ensure disability can no longer be given as a reason for termination, right up to birth.

Ask yourself this simple question: where does disability discrimination start?

It starts before birth. It starts if the immediate response to a prenatal screening test that shows a disability diagnosis is to offer a termination. It starts with the prejudiced presumption that disability is a tragedy. (Tell that to our Paralympians.)

It starts with a law that specifically lists disability – or ‘handicap’ – as grounds for abortion and, to make the discrimination even more obvious (just in case you missed it), sets a ceiling of 24 weeks for termination if there’s no disability and explicitly removes the ceiling if there is a disability.

That’s right. Right. Up. To. Birth.

There is a recognised term for this. It’s called disability discrimination or section (1)(1)(d) of the Abortion Act 1967 to be precise.

One other question: where does changing the law start?

It starts with you. Today. Now.

If you believe we’re all equal, if you think securing an end to discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, race, gender or disability is worth fighting for, be part of something big and make your voice heard.

why we need change now

The law promotes inequality

By stating that disability is grounds for termination, the law is promoting inequality. It would be internationally condemned if a country’s abortion laws singled out fetuses on the ground of gender or skin colour. Yet because it’s disability, it’s somehow ok? This is inequality, sanctioned, sponsored and funded by the state.

The law is inconsistent with disability discrimination legislation for after birth

It is completely inconsistent for Parliament to have passed a law (the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) which expressly prohibits discrimination on grounds of disability after birth while allowing another law, which expressly provides for lethal discrimination through termination on grounds of disability right up to birth, to remain on the statute book.

The law is out of date.

This provision is a throwback to a time when we had totally different attitudes to the inclusion and contribution of people with disabilities. You only have to look at the discriminatory language used by all sides of the debate in Parliament when this was discussed in 1967 and 1990 to realise how far attitudes have changed. We’ve moved on. The law hasn’t. It’s time it did.

Parliamentary Inquiry into abortion for disability

The 2013 parliamentary inquiry into abortion for disability found the vast majority of those who gave evidence believed allowing abortion up to birth on the grounds of disability is discriminatory, contrary to the spirit of the Equality Act and affects wider public attitudes towards discrimination. The inquiry recommended Parliament reviews the question of allowing abortion on the grounds of disability and should consider repealing section 1(1)(d) of the Abortion Act which allows for it.

UK report on the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

The UK Initial Report on the CRPD noted the concerns of disability rights organisations under Article 10 UNCRPD (right to life): “concerns were expressed around the approach to abortion in the UK, where disabled people have suggested a bias towards termination of pregnancies if a child is likely to be disabled.

The law reinforces negative stereotypes

The Disability Rights Commission (now the Equality and Human Rights Commission) have said this aspect of the Abortion Act “is offensive to many people; it reinforces negative stereotypes of disability…[and] is incompatible with valuing disability and non-disability equally”.

UN Committee condemns disability discrimination before birth

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have consistently criticised countries which provide for abortion in a way which distinguishes between fetuses on the basis of disability, most notably Austria, Hungary and Spain, citing Article 5 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (equality and non-discrimination provision).

How the law has been used in practice is not what Parliament intended

How the law has been used in practice to discriminate and introduce informal eugenics by stealth goes far beyond what Parliament intended when it passed the Abortion Act 1967 and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. The sheer scale of discrimination is borne out by Department of Health statistics published in May 2016, which show a marked increase across the board in terminations carried out on grounds of disability and after 24 weeks.

In England and Wales, there were 3,213* terminations on grounds of disability in 2015, up from 1,916* in 2005, with some years (2014 and 2012) showing increases of more than 10% on the previous year.

In the same period, the number of terminations after 24 weeks allowed on grounds of disability has increased by more than 67%, up from 137* to 230*. 2011 alone saw the number of terminations after 24 weeks increase by 27%. Up from 429* in 2005 to 689* in 2015, 2014 saw the number of terminations for Down’s syndrome increase by more than 10% in the space of just 12 months as new screening techniques became available privately.

In 2015, 11 terminations were carried out for cleft lip/palate. In 2013, the number of terminations for cleft lip/palate increased by 56%. Cleft lip/palate is an easily surgically rectifiable condition.

*A 2014 Department of Health review found evidence that there is significant under-reporting on the number of abortions for some fetal disabilities. These numbers are therefore likely to be significantly higher.

It’s time Parliament looked at this again.

Discrimination by numbers

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terminations on grounds of disability in 2015*
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terminations after 24 weeks on ground of disability in 2015*
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increase in the number of terminations on grounds of disability after 24 weeks since 1995 (1995-2015)
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terminations for Down's syndrome in 2015*
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terminations for cleft lip/palate in 2015

*A 2014 Department of Health review found evidence that there is significant under-reporting on the number of abortions for some fetal disabilities. These numbers are therefore likely to be significantly higher. 

latest media & resources

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Let’s get the word out

Care about disability equality? Take it to social media! Share our campaign with your friends and family. Remember to use the hashtag #allequal

You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date with all the latest news from the campaign.

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UK at the Paralympics 2016

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Athletes competed
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Athletes protected from disability discrimination after birth
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Athletes* protected from disability discrimination before birth

*Athletes born with a disability

Get Involved

We are looking for people to help out with running the campaign, feature in our campaign videos and photos, be spokespeople for media interviews, and for a range of other roles. We are looking for people with and without disabilities, but are especially looking for people with a disability to talk for videos and get involved with media. If you can help out in any way please add your details below and we’ll be in contact to work out how we can best get you involved.

GET INVOLVED

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who we are

Lord Shinkwin, a peer with a disability, introduced a Bill into the House of Lords that proposes to remove s(1)(1)(d) from the 1967 Abortion Act which allows abortion on the grounds of disability, right up to birth.

The ‘We’re All Equal’ campaign is run by people with disabilities, their families and supporters. We are opposed to institutionalised inequality before and after birth and are committed to making disability equality a reality and consigning disability discrimination to the history books.

Our aim is to call on the Government to give Lord Shinkwin’s Abortion (Disability Equality) Bill enough time to proceed to the House of Commons and be voted on by MPs, whilst raising public awareness as to the discrimination that exists against people with disabilities. With your help we will.

Our campaign spokesperson is Dr Elizabeth Corcoran from the UK Down’s Syndrome Research Foundation. To contact us for media comment or learn more about the campaign, email contact@allequal.org.uk