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DC is right on this one and will remain so until we have correct levels of support for families of disabled children. I work in schools and frequently see the impact a disabled child has on the rest of the family. Even well-off and well-educated middle-class families suffer as the result of having a disabled child. Sleepless nights, financial strain, neglect of other siblings and a distinct lack of normality hits these families hard. Equally, looking at a middle aged parent struggling with a twenty-odd year old disbaled son or daughter is a tragic sight. Maybe abortion in these cases is the best for everyone involved, including the disabled child.

I would also like to challenge Mr Dobbin to name a person who was severely disabled from birth who has made a significant contribution to humanity.

An unborn child of 24 weeks is either worthy of protection or not.

If Mr Cameron is saying a "normal" 24 week old foetus should be protected by law but not a "disabled" 24 week old foetus then this is no longer a discussion about abortion but about equality for disabled people.

Chips of Brookfield,

Well, that's blunt and to the point. I think your comment will generate an extremely lively response.

Morally I don't believe we can justify aborting a child because it is imperfect. We are dealing with a human life and that overrides any questions of 'social inconvenience' caused by having a severely disabled child. The comments from Chips of Brookfield are attention-seeking and immature. We should not value life in terms of its 'contribution' to society. People are not factors in production or to have their worth measured against their 'role' in society. All human life, able or disabled, has dignity and the blase way that some people talk about ending a life, with complete moral impunity, is both shocking and very sad.

Just because Chips disagrees with you, doesn't mean he is immature.

People have children ultimately for selfish reasons, i.e. because they will derive pleasure and contentment from doing so. I do not see that it is reasonable, when we have the opportunity to avoid it, to force people to carry the millstone of a lifetime of care for such a child.

As to whether human life is precious, the evidence is that our government is not convinced; we for instance were quite happy to sacrifice many hundreds of thousands of lives (e.g. those slaughtered in Indonesia) in the name of destroying Communism. And these were people with a history, families, children, husbands and wives, not merely unborn babies with poor life prospects.

The system should be fair, irrelevant of whether the child is disabled or not. Either abortion is bad or it is not. Its bizarre that Cameron has given so much succour to the anti-abortionists such as Nadine Dorries and yet has a very conflicted view here and considers it OK to allow abortion for disabled embryos right up to birth. That is morally unacceptable.

Does the Conservative Party believe in the motto "Every Child Matters" or does it only apply to the "normal" ones?

This is a serious issue because we know that in the event of a Tory victory in the next election, attempts will be made to tighten the law on this.

I think what is distasteful is the Labour MP trying to cast a conscience issue into a left-right equality matter. I would never dare be so presumptuous as to tell parents in that situation what they must and must not do- what I think about abortion feels almost painfully irrelevant.

PS Chips- Stephen Hawking's body was genetically programmed from birth to lead to disability and I think his contributions are fairly well established. But I do find the calculus of utility a horrible one to apply to any human being- how does it measure the qualia of love?

It really depends on the level of disability, if the child will suffer pain and suffering from birth I would advocate abortion, but if if they would be able to have a good quality of life then I wouldn't. Unfortunately there are a whole host of other variables that come into this, can the parents cope? would it be cruel for the child to be born? etc..

I can see the point Cameron is making but there is a whiff of negative eugenics about this.

I am not being immature. This year I have had to support a 15 year old student who has a severely disabled brother. He has had the disability since birth. He wakes several times in the night in pain and screams. The whole house wakes. She has not had a good night's sleep in over a year. Her mother is exhausted and can offer little help. She was trying to sit GCSEs. I see this every few years.

Graeme - I said "from birth" - the Hawkins example is not relevant here.

The thing that worries me is that once we see human life as being expendable and dependent on 'usefulness' then the moral plain shifts and it makes it easier for people to talk about areas such as euthanasia for the old etc. We can't lecture totaliatrian states about genocide if we carry out a similiar policy on a smaller scale dressed up as compassionate killing.

chips maybe U SHOULD JOIN THE BNP u are not a TORY

James: Please avoid that sort of attack.

Graeme Archer writes: "I would never dare be so presumptuous as to tell parents in that situation what they must and must not do."

But last week you were dared on centreright to tell the Chinese government to improve the human rights of its people.

The Chinese regime doesn't own its people. Parents don't own their children. Human rights must come first and that includes the right of disabled people.


Cameron's completely right. Disability's for life, not just for 9 months, or even the next 18 years. Unless the child's lifespan is much shorter, it will go on past the parents' lifetimes and their ability to provide care (assuming they're able in the first place). Now it depends on the disability in question, and to some extent it depends on the circumstances of the family. That's why families should have the *choice*.

I totally agree with this, beautifully put Tony:

"People are not factors in production or to have their worth measured against their 'role' in society. All human life, able or disabled, has dignity"

In a rich society why can't we provide more support to families with disabled children?

Not only does it say a lot about society how it treats the vulnerable, but how can anyone judge another life to be unvaluable or forsee how the individual will feel?

I also fervently believe that one day we will find breakthroughs for all these disabilities, but if we abort every problem a way we will never find cures.

im sory are there any non pseudo social Darwinists on hear do you want to win the election
this is the reason 2why disabled tories are rare

Abe, if you were to be involved in an accident and left so disabled as to be completely dependent on others, should 'someone' have the choice to terminate your life? A child in the womb is a human being and just as alive and as human as you or I, abortion ends a life, that is a fact.

Disappointing, but not surprising comments from DC.

I wonder if DC has ever considered that, some day in the future, scientists may be able to 'screen' the child's sexuality or, indeed, likely IQ in adulthood? Would it be right for parents to abort their baby if he/she was found to be gay or have a very low IQ level? If not, why should gay and babies and those with a likely low IQ level have more rights to life than a disabled one?

I think we can all take heart from the fact that the next generation of Conservative MPs will seek to reduce to abortion limit to under 20 weeks (still too high, IMO).

Graeme I entirely agree with you!

This is a thorny and difficult subject and one on which my views have changed over the years. I used to be 100% anti-abortion - opposing it under any circumstances whatsoever. Maturity and experience of life meant that my view now is that despite the fact that abortion is unpleasant, horrible and terribly sad for the woman and her partner if she has one - sometimes it is the only option. David Cameron has, as we know, a little boy with many serious health problems and he and Sam are exemplary parents who look after him devotedly. We don't know the full extent of the sleepless nights and worries that they have undergone and continue to undergo with Ivan's difficulties! David is brave and honest in what he says - despite the fact that he loves Ivan dearly he would not presume to force parents to continue with a pregnancy that will result in a severely disabled child whose arrival will change their family's life for ever.

a life is a life is a life4 maybe if we advocated stop doling out money to lazy stupid ppl who can got of there backsisde and WORK then we would be able to give these kids a good life

Chips I think the Hawkins example is relevant (because the first thing that genetics research will deliver- is delivering- is robust prediction of terrible disability. I don't think the age at which the disability manifests is important). But I was clumsily trying to make a different point, which is that 'utility' is a horrible measure to apply to the unborn child. And even more clumsily wanted to flag that while many of us have very strong opinions on this- opinions which may simultaneously be at loggerheads with each other but yet be held for the best of reasons- I can't pretend that I think my opinion matters anything when placed next to someone who faces the actual dilemma and its consequences, that's all. I think Sally expressed this quite elegantly.

I am not a Cameron fan. Think he is wishywashy on things which affect all of us, like taxation,immigration and the EU, but it is unfair to criticise him about what he says on subjects like this, which are matters of individual conscience.

Whatever he said would have upset someone.

If we allowed animals to live a life of suffering, we would be prosecuted.

If we try to prevent a human having a life of suffering, some people posting here would like us to be prosecuted.

Chips is right - I have observed at close quarters for 40 years the massive problems that severe congenital disorders cause to families, besides the trauma suffered by the individuals themselves.

I see no reason whatsoever why abortion should be subject to Parliamentary ruling.

I am a hospital chaplain, and was called recently to bless the body of a 32 week gestation baby that had been killed in utero by a lethal injection because the parents were given a diagnosis of Downs Syndrome and were not prepared to care for a disabled child. They came from Ireland, where such a procedure would be a criminal act, to have the termination on the NHS.
The Nazis had a phrase 'Life unworthy of life' - it looks as if David Cameron agrees with them.

i repet this is the reason why disabled ppl do not like the tories i believe ever life is worth savinfg nhence i am a conservative
now if we stop advocatin universal bennifit and started to prioritise these kind of case in tbhe welfair state maybe we wouled be conservative

"i repet (sic) this is the reason why disabled ppl do not like the tories i believe ever life is worth savinfg (sic) nhence (sic) i am a conservative"

You are very wrong here, James. The majority of Conservatives are pro-life and the majority of Socialists are pro "choice".

The Lib Dems are fairly split on the issue, althogh more anti than pro. But, then again, it depends on who they are talking to.

Chaplain, the policy in Germany was called 'Dasein ohne Leben' which translates as 'Existence without life' and began by using parents who were NSDAP members to call for euthanasia, which quickly became portrayed as mainstream opinion. I remember Channel four doing a very powerful and moving documentary about the subject as part of their 'without walls' series around fifteen years ago.

Oh dear, Chaplain has proven "Godwins Law". And at such an early stage of the discussion.

JH ur comments r lost on me point is dc is wrong on this if the child is severely disabled then it is stil a life and it is one worth saving

Wow the thread isn't even that long and already someone has broken Godwin's law, congrats!


Justin Hinchcliffe, if we ever did find some technique to find out if a foetus was gay - being gay doesn't impose any burden on a parent beyond perhaps the mild emotional shock when the child comes out. A disabled child, on the other hand, places an incomparable task upon parents who probably are not equipped to deal with it, and probably for the rest of their natural lives.

Cameron being in that position is very well placed to comment and if he and his wife had decided they were not able to look after a disabled child and had carried through an abortion, it would not be the place of anyone here to pontificate about that private and excruciating act.

I must agree with Graeme Archer on this - the state clearly has no place intruding on such private tragedies and the wishes of the parents must be paramount.

I find confirmation of these frankly repulsive views deeply depressing, and particularly dislike the turn of phrase about giving parents the option of "doing something about it". "It" presumably being the unborn child which - had it not been so unfortunate as to be less than its parents expectations physically, or to reside in a State which discriminates - would otherwise be protected by law like all the others.

There are two options. Either there is no time limit for abortion at all, or there is the same time limit for all. Otherwise where does doing something about "it" end? Will we let parents murder disabled children or adults because we don't want to deny them the option of "doing something about it"? What about elderly relatives? The State does have the right to legislate here, it has the duty to legislate here, because it has the duty to defend it's citizens.

I really hate the burden argument also. Lots of things are a burden, but disability is a risk of life. Children are human brings, not something from a mail order catalogue that you can send back as a reject.

As for the frankly socialist 'value to society' argument, I find it odd why Hawkin is discounted when - as far as I know - people with his condition are regularly aborted after 24 weeks. Leanings to depression can also be genetic, didn't Churchill suffer depression?

"I find confirmation of these frankly repulsive views deeply depressing"

More depressing than if you were so unfortunate as to be born completely disabled- both mentally and physically? More depressing than being part of the family that has to work every hour of every day to look after a child in this sort of condition with no goal other than keeping their heart beating?

There are lots of grey areas and "what if" or "in that case" arguments but who could possibly want to force such an individual or their family to go through such suffering, just for some warped "Life is sacred" principle?

What a welcome contrast it is between our party and Labour that we respect the rights of MPs to vote freely on conscience matters.

Chips of Brookfield, perhaps you will allow me to respond to your challenge to Mr. Dobbin; I can name for you my young cousin, a Downs Syndrome baby, who has made a hugely significant contribution to humanity by bringing love and joy into my life, the lives of his parents and siblings, and of all who are fortunate enough to know him and his sunny personality and innocence. I daresay other friends and relatives of the disabled would say the same thing.

We need to break out of the emotion-based thinking that says only if you've had personal experience of something can you give an opinion on it. It is possible to be right or wrong whether you have had experience of something or not. Here, DC is wrong - you cannot just abort a child, disabled or not.

Louise - Your cousin has not made a contribution to humanity - only to your family, so I am afraid I still wait on that one.

I am also not sure that Down's Syndrome is the same as the cases I have been familiar with - in the one example the child was in pain, unable to speak, hear or see. In another 24 hour care was needed and was provided by the family, including the older and younger siblings.

It is worth noting that I am not suggesting that all, or for that matter any, disabled babies should be aborted. I simply believe that a family should have that choice.

Louise, we have a Downs Syndrome girl in our family - only she is 35, and has to live in a Home because although fully grown she barely has the mental faculties of a 18mth old.

Her parents are now pensioners, and have to fight every year with the Council to keep her in her very expensive and very good Home. She comes for a holiday with her parents every 2 months or so, involving a major drive and then 24hr care. Her mother has suffered two nervous breakdowns after the massive battles required to get any kind of care for her and help for the family. Sunny babies are one thing, incontinent and incapable fully grown adults are another.

And just maybe DC's views are coloured by having a beloved child who suffers constant agony - that isn't life, it is hell.

"...have to fight every year with the Council to keep her in her very expensive and very good Home "

I really must protest this attempt to try measure people's lives in terms of cost. If someone needs care they should receive care, regardless of the cost. Are we a civilized society or not?

That's not his point Tony. Why do you always take things out of context and use it to avoid the real argument?

The point is that as a society we will not support families with disabled children. The poor and the are ok, but those in the middle suffer.

Perhaps if care workers received better wages then we might be able to attract more people to the profession and provide the level of care that can make lives easier for families?

I find it tragic that so many elderly people are shunted of to homes when they should be enjoying the closing years of their lives with their families, but sadly the support structure isn't there and families struggle to cope. This goes for those with severe disability too.

Senior politicians need to look at the care infrastructure and find ways to extend and improve it, with the move away from institutional care and with greater emphasis on supporting families who care for a loved one.

We shouldn't just kill a person in the womb because they are disabled, that is disgusting.

"We shouldn't just kill a person in the womb because they are disabled, that is disgusting."

Nor should we keep them in a state of constant suffering for the sake of a heartbeat. That is disgusting.

MrB, you comment without knowing my situation. I consider myself very fortunate and to live a good quality of life. I am however disabled and have a condition which can be tested for before birth, and for which unborn children are regularly aborted. No one has the right to decide that another person's quality of life is not worth living, the law must always presume a desire to live.

Equally, you cannot discard responsibilities because it's "too hard". Life is hard, that's a fact, but do we really want to be a society so selfish we abort babies based on the fact they will be more work than others? We need to reform care and support for the disabled, elderly and carers; not just give up and take abortion as some kind of "final solution"!

Louise is quite right that the joy her cousin brings people is a valuable contribution to society. Ever heard the saying "These things are sent to try us"? All the talk has been of the burden created by disabled relatives, but many siblings of the disabled go on to do many things - particularly in medicine - that they wouldn't have done otherwise. Many disabled people also work!

And as for the talk of choice, what choice does the unborn disabled person get?

David I was merely pointing out the extreme nature of Tony's comment which infered that some of us advocate abortion purely on the basis of the child having any sort of disability.

This is obviously not true. My position is that in a case where the child in question would be under constant suffering and in need of constant care, abortion is appropriate.

It is far more cruel to keep a child in this state than to take its life away.

MrB, you consider human life to be no more than a heartbeat, you claim a life of suffering warrants a person's death. Would you therefore personally feel justified in, and able to personally end a disabled person's life? Is is this just an abstract argument for you?

Tony M - ever tried fighting with Local Authorities for 'proper' funding for 24hr care? In the case I quoted, the mother got her way by issuing two threats, after years of struggle: that she would leave the toddler on the steps of the Town Hall, and get a TV programme made about the Council's Social Services Dept (she had the right contacts). And try doing that fighting whilst looking after a desperately disabled child, with your husband having to earn a living, and with no close family available.

And maybe the Council had a point, that spending tens of thousands of pounds on just one child would deny others the help they needed, because there is no bottomless pit of money to draw on.

And I won't answer for Mr B, but if I were asked to aid someone dear to me who was in extremis to die, I would do my best to assist.

Cameron's concern for the parents is good, but what has that got to do with taking a person's life? It is not enough to be able to appreciate the parents' point of view; we are called to value the point of view of the weakest and most vulnerable.

Some people have said the disabled are better off dead. This is tragic. Life loves life. Disabled people love life.

As an MP Cameron can do far more than empathise with parents and allow them to have their children killed. He can legislate for worthy support from the government for parents who are faced with that life-changing burden.

You could almost say having a severely disabled child is like carrying a Cross. The point is not to cast it off but to embrace it--this is the way of redemption.

James M, very well put. We must never allow the sanctity of life to be cheapened by intellectual abstractions. Quality of life is relative, and a person with limited experience can still enjoy life and enhance the lives of others. It seems that this whole debate has centred on the effect of disability for those around the disabled person rather than being based on the needs of the disabled person him/herself.

SJM, the whole issue of care must move to the forefront of political debate, there are clearly failings in the system and people are falling through the net. If compassionate Conservatism is to mean anything it must begin by addressing the problems of front-line care, support for families and more support for care workers, both professional and voluntary.

"if I were asked to aid someone dear to me who was in extremis to die, I would do my best to assist" - SJM.

You would also be breaking the law, however tragic the case.

Some excellent comments here, e.g. Justin Hinchcliffe and Tony Makara. Absolutely true the value of a human being should never be judged by financial cost or its potential usefulness to society. (The elderly and sick beware: the euthenasia lobby are still trying). It's not up to us to play the role of deciding which innocent human beings live and those that should be disposed of. DC's comments are sad. While he wants a reduction in the time limit, and this is welcome and probably an advancement on the views of most Lab and Lib Dems, he obviously hasn't fully grasped the true value of human life.

Tony: I disagree with your "fact" entirely, but the issue of abortion per se has been discussed previously. I'm strongly pro-choice and, for that matter, pro-euthanasia under certain conditions. If I'm ever so compromised that all I have to look forward to is misery, agony and death -- yes, please, kill me. Fine with that.

But I do have experience of this. My brother is completely dependent, requires round-the-clock care. In all his placements, he's been misunderstood, neglected and frequently abused. Every now and then, fatuous social workers or "professionals" will come and make ill-judged though usually well-meaning suggestions, but he doesn't fit the tick boxes, there's no easy training course, and very few people can handle him adequately outside of short bursts.

The problem is "disability" is such a broad term. I have no doubt that many disabled people can live happy lives with support. Indeed, some areas of disability are very well supported, particularly if the disabled people have some single, visually obvious and highly relatable disability.

Trouble is, you have people living lives of utter misery, their families and their support networks sharing that misery -- a life sentence for all concerned -- and generally these people fall through the cracks.

Terry talks about cutting out "emotion-based thinking", but it's not the pro-choice people who come up with lurid Nazi/murder analogies. I'm sure carers and disabled people fall on all sides of the debate, but nobody has a complete picture. We all pay tax, we all have some awareness or fear of crime -- these are shared experiences we can discuss quite easily. But there's a huge diversity of disabilities.

Most people have little or no comprehension of what many disabled people suffer and what many long-term carers do or live with. I don't know, and I *am* a carer in what I think is a fairly severe case. Every now and then, because of my circle of contacts, I'll see or hear something and my blood will run cold. "If I was in their shoes...". But rarely. These are private tragedies played out across lifetimes almost entirely behind closed doors.

Yes, it's a matter of conscience. It should be a matter of conscience for everyone. Some people will and probably should terminate; others won't and should not. But that's why everyone should have the CHOICE.

Incidentally, Louise, I understand and respect your personal feelings on the abortion issue itself, but your comment on the wonders of the free vote bothers me vaguely.

In the abstract, I agree with you, but there's no option to pass down choice on most conscience votes -- you can't be pro-choice on the death penalty. But MPs are able to pass down choice on this conscience matter, so why is freedom of conscience good for the 646 but bad for the 64.6m?

An abortion is a private medical matter between a woman and her doctor (and, if you must, a foetus) with virtually no knock-on consequence to anyone else. There are issues of funding and suchlike, sure, but these are separate from basic legality.

We have doctors who are willing to perform the procedure. We have a clear, unambiguous legal and biological Rubicon -- birth. The area under discussion is very specific: the nine months prior to birth.

If you're pro-life, fine. If you're pro-choice, fine. If you're either of the above but realise a free vote is necessary to avoid an acrimonious and largely futile intra-party struggle, fine.

But if you believe these issues truly belong to the conscience -- if there's no absolute, whippable imperative -- surely the only coherent position is to be pro-choice? Voting for choice doesn't mean to say you can't be pro-life in a personal capacity, as I suspect a lot of pro-choice people are. It simply means that you defend the rights of people to exercise their own judgments.

I would consider life that has BOTH *extremely* low mental and physical ability little more than a heartbeat. Being a choice on the part of the parents, you are also wrong in saying my position "Warrants" death. Since I am not advocating a law that makes it compulsary for extremely disabled foetuses to be aborted this is not the case. If someone wants to put a child and themselves through that agony that is their choice.

Also, hypothetically speaking (as it is against the law) if a relative or very close friend of mine were to ask if I would support them in choosing to die then in all possibility I would do my best to help them.

You must understand that the position most of us are taking, whichever side we lie on, is what we believe to be the compassionate position. You would say it is compassionate to preserve the right to live of the unborn child since it is their life but are not capable of making the choice. This is a fair argument. But I could not, with a clear conscience, bring a child into the world which would be in constant suffering. Furthermore, just as the effect on the child's family shouldn't be given too much attention as a point in the debate, neither should it be excluded as a point in the debate.

Once more I will stress that my position is with regard to *extremely* disabled babies. And yes, the lines are blurred as to when this begins and ends but that is a debate for elsewhere. All this religious talk of "sanctity" and "redemption" seems to be clouding the minds of some.

All these abortions totally sicken me. As Conservatives, why on earth don't we take a tougher line against the immoral clapped out liberals who have left several more generations who don't know how to behave? Having a baby is not a consumer object.

And the waste of taxpayers money helping these people who mismanage their private affairs really sickens me. It's NHS public money, and the priorities are all wrong.

I had a situation back in May when I really needed help. I went to the dentist to have some impressions done for crowns and dentures. I was in the chair biting into this huge gluey impression stuff, and it set, and they couldn't get it off.
I tried my best to communicate (couldn't talk) but they said they were so booked up with NHS appointments, I'd have to come back to get it fixed. So I had to go out into the street with it stuck, and suffer the humiliation.

Yet these idiots have abortions and waste public money over my case. Is that fair?

This is a conscience issue, and I respect Cameron's position. However, I would not go into a polling booth and vote for anyone of any party who believes that abortion at 24 weeks is to be allowed.

Lots of interesting postings about this. A subject on which people have strong feelings. However, I go back to what I wrote earlier; it is not right to criticise Cameron for his views (he isn`t Prime Minister yet, remember). A matter for individual conscience.

Am not afraid to use my own name incidentally.

While I've got no real problem with what David Cameron has said I do believe that there are people out their who are supporters of Binet and Galton who through their wapped view of gentics are taking us done a very sick road in society ie if only we abort all disabled foetus we can get rid of them within a certain time frame. Reagan didn't like this and I don't too.

I like this man more and more. A true conservative. I support full choice for women but accept the debate over the viability timeframe argument. I admire his stand on this particular disability issue given his own personal experience. I admire his call to see abortion made easier in the early days which it of course should be. The patronising of women has to stop, the insistence on regulating their wombs has to stop and better education all round is required. I admire his lack of hysterical furore on the whole thing. I regret that there are so few women in the party to back him up.

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