Special to WorldTribune.com
Hillary Clinton’s strident defense of partial-birth abortion at Wednesday’s final presidential debate gives a needed boost to those in England and Wales who would choose to abort their pregnancy at the last moment if their unborn child had a defect as simple as a cleft palate, the CEO of Britain’s largest abortion provider says.
In a Thursday opinion piece in The Telegraph, Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, writes that Clinton “stepped up to defend reproductive autonomy and, in particular, access to late terminations.”
“The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions for families to make,” Furedi quotes Clinton as saying at the Las Vegas debate with Republican challenger Donald Trump. “I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and be making those most personal of decisions.”
Furedi writes, “It’s a point we should all reflect on, and it’s as pertinent in the UK as the U.S.”
She then stresses the timeliness of Clinton’s remarks for Britain:
“Tomorrow, the House of Lords will debate a Private Member’s Bill to remove Ground E, which enables doctors to provide women with lawful terminations following a diagnosis of foetal anomaly – without an upper time limit.”
Furedi notes that the bill is meant to proscribe late-term abortions in cases where the fetus is determined to suffer from minor deformities and is seen by proponents as a way to fight discrimination against the disabled.
She then chillingly argues in defense of such abortions, even for cases as easily treatable as a cleft palate:
“These women are not making a statement about the value of disabled people,” Furedi writes. “They are making a personal and often difficult choice about what is right and possible for them, their families and – above all – the child they had hoped for.
“The commentator Melanie McDonagh, this week, described as ‘pathetic’ the 11 abortions that took place for cleft palate last year,” she continues.
“But cleft palate, while indeed treatable, can be a marker for something much more profoundly wrong. Some women will simply hope for the best, others – perhaps because they are older, concerned about their ability to provide ongoing care, or because they have children already and have to think of the impact on them – will choose not to.
“It’s not ‘pathetic’ to believe that the person best placed to judge her own circumstances is the woman who must bear the consequences of a decision to continue or end a pregnancy.”
The UK’s Daily Mail noted in August that abortions in cases of cleft palate are on the rise in Britain.
“Abortions of babies with a minor facial deformity have nearly tripled in the past five years, official figures show,” the Mail reports.
“A growing number of terminations are carried out due to a cleft palate or lip – a condition which causes a gap in the roof of the mouth, upper lip or both, but is usually easily fixed by surgery.”
The Telegraph reported in 2013 that the number of Ground E abortions in England and Wales is vastly underreported.
“Eurocat, which was set up to register congenital abnormalities across 23 countries, said 157 foetuses were aborted for cleft lip and palate in England and Wales between 2006 and 2010,” medical correspondent Stephen Adams wrote.
“However, the Department of Health records only 14 such abortions.
“Over that five year period there were also 205 abortions for club foot, according to Eurocat. Again, official records put the figure at much lower,” Adams reported.
Furedi concludes her piece in support of those abortions with a final nod to Clinton’s debate performance, writing:
“As Hillary Clinton declared in this week’s debate, these choices must be for women – not politicians – to make.”