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Number of abortions for cleft-palate babies rises three-fold

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The abortion of babies with a minor facial deformity has nearly tripled in the past five years, official figures show.

Statistics released by the Department of Health have revealed a sharp rise in the number of abortions that are carried out due to a cleft palate or lip – a condition which causes a small or wide gap in the roof of the mouth, upper lip or both.

It is usually easily fixed by surgery. However, it is believed that increased access to pre-natal tests that can diagnose the condition are behind the rise in the number of abortions.

In 2011 and 2012, just four abortions were carried out on babies with a cleft palate or lip. The figure rose to nine in 2013, ten in 2014 and 11 last year.

‘Worrying trend’

Campaigners warn that abortions on such grounds are 'unconscionable' and that lives are being ended merely on the basis of appearance.

Conservative MP Fiona Bruce, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, told The Mail: "It is deeply disturbing if these figures reflect a worrying trend in society to disproportionately value the physically perfect and beautiful."

Fiona has previously chaired a parliamentary inquiry into abortion on the grounds of disability, calling for the practice to be re-examined in the light of medical advances and new legal commitments.

The inquiry heard claims that the way the law was being applied amounted to a form of "eugenics" and was no longer fit for a "civilised society".

'Unconscionable and unthinkable'

Lord Alton, an independent crossbench peer, said that: "Aborting a baby with a cleft palate should be unconscionable. For the law to allow this up to birth should be unthinkable."

Don't Screen Us Out

Concerns have been renewed over a new pre-natal screening test which will see an increased number of abortions for those diagnosed with conditions such as Down's syndrome.

The Don't Screen Us Out campaign, a coalition of Down's syndrome advocacy and pro-life groups, is urging Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to delay the implementation of the new test.

The campaign coalition wants a full consultation with all the community of people with Down's syndrome, and for medical reforms to be introduced which provide greater support for parents who have received a pre-natal diagnosis of Down's syndrome.

Visit the Don't Screen Us Out website for more information. 

'Schizophrenic culture'

In a comment piece for US News, Grazie Pozo Christie claims we are living in a "schizophrenic culture," where "on the one hand we are striving to eliminate discrimination and create a society... where having a special need is not a cause for shame and isolation".

But on the other hand, she says: "We are also a society that goes to great lengths to prevent the birth of the disabled themselves, sharply discriminating against them at their most vulnerable stage".

She adds: "Fetal ultrasound has opened a window into the mysteries of early human development and has revolutionized the way we think and feel about pregnancy. 'Meeting' one's little girl or boy through the grainy images of the sonogram has become a delightful rite in almost every pregnancy."

"Unfortunately, it is also a moment when a problem may become apparent: signs of Down's Syndrome, Dwarfism, Cleft Palate or a limb discrepancy. Many times, the presence of a disability or physical defect, or even the possibility of one, drives the parents to 'select' against the child. In other words, they abort and 'try again.'"

Related Links: 
Fury as number of abortions of cleft-lip babies rises after new in-womb tests are offered (Mail) 
Parliamentary commission reveals shock figures for disability abortions
Eugenics and Equality Can't Mix  
New abortion figures a tragedy