At one of his 'Cameron Direct' meetings, on Wednesday evening in Barrow-in-Furness, David Cameron was asked if he would favour "unborn children who are disabled [having] the same protection under the law as currently enjoyed by all other children". Current law stops a pregancy from being terminated after 24 weeks unless the foetus has a disability. Mr Cameron's answer was "no" (confirming reports from March) and John Smeaton of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has blogged the Conservative leader's full explanation:
"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.”
The Daily Mail takes up the story this morning and quotes Jim Dobbin MP's disapproval of the Tory leader's position. Mr Dobbin, a Labour MP and chairman of the all-party Parliamentary pro-life group, said:
"This is an equality issue. His statement allows abortion up to birth for the disabled and this sends out a horrifying message to people with disabilities. This is telling people with disabilities that they have fewer human rights than people without disabilities. Many people with severe disabilities have contributed greatly to humanity."