Geoffrey Clark, the UKIP (UK Independence Party) candidate for Kent County Council has said that babies that show signs of Down’s Syndrome or Spina Bifida in the 20 week scan should be forcibly aborted. The reason? To cut NHS costs.
Geoffrey Clark has made a rapid U-turn and apologised for the comment, although it is unlikely to save his career as an MP. UKIP has already distanced itself from him and confirmed that he will not be representing UKIP again.
“The compulsory abortion of unborn babies with disabilities not only tramples on a woman’s right to choose but offends those thousands of disabled people who live happy and productive lives.” – Sharon Bowles MEP for Kent.
Mencap has said that it was disgusted and horrified to hear what Mr Clark had suggested.
The BBC’s article says that he stated, via the Internet:
“compulsory abortion when the foetus is detected as having Down’s, spina bifida or similar syndrome which, if it is born, could render the child a burden on the state as well as on the family”
This was posted on the Scoot.it website which reports on major social media conversations:
“Expectant mothers with foetuses discovered to have Down’s syndrome and other disabilities should be made to have compulsory abortions, according to UKIP candidate Geoffrey Clark’s manifesto”. Source (BNP website).
Many people with Down’s Syndrome live productive and happy lives with the help of their parents and the state.
As well as forced abortions Geoffery Clark also suggested that expensive medical treatment should be withheld for the over 80’s – if the cost is “disproportionately costly to the NHS” (BBC News).
What is Down’s Syndrome?
Down’s is a chromosomal condition caused by a third copy of chromosome 21. It is the most common chromosome abnormality in humans. Sufferers generally have reduced cognitive ability, stunted growth and a low IQ. Children with downs tend to have an IQ of around half of that of an average child, which is around 50. Anything below 70 is considered to be mentally retarded.
The syndrome was first described in by John Langdon Down, a British doctor, in 1866. In separate reports it as also described by Jean Etienne Dominique Esquirol in 1838 and Edouard Seguin in 1844.
The actual identification of the cause, i.e. chromosome 21 trisomy, was discovered by Dr. Jérôme Lejeune in 1959.
Down’s can usually be identified by pre-natal screening and many parents chose to terminate their unborn child. However, this is a voluntary decision and parents who chose to raise their child are fully supported by the NHS and the state.
Down’s in the UK is not very common. Between 2007 and 2008 there were 1843 cases diagnosed during pre-natal screening. 743 babies were born with the condition. Overall it affects around 1 in a 1000 births.
Problems with Down’s Syndrome
People with Down’s syndrome are at greater risk for the following complications:
- Congenital heart disease – various heart defects can occur.
- Sight and hearing problems
- Alzheimer’s disease – a common form of dementia that often affects people who are over 65 years of age
Down’s syndrome – NHS Choices (Accessed 18/12/2012)
UKIP suspends Down’s syndrome abortion call candidate – BBC News (Accessed 18/12/2012)