LONDON, Aug 22, 2001 ( – The British Government’s Disability Rights Commission (DRC) has said that a section of Britain’s 1967 Abortion Act discriminates against those with disabilities. The DRC issued a statement Tuesday noting that Section 1(1)d of the act allows abortion at any time during pregnancy if there is a significant risk of the baby being born seriously disabled, while under normal circumstances abortion is not permitted after 24 weeks gestation.

The DRC statement said: “The Section is offensive to many people; it reinforces negative stereotypes of disability and there is substantial support for the view that to permit terminations at any point during a pregnancy on the ground of risk of disability, while time limits apply to other grounds set out in the Abortion Act, is incompatible with valuing disability and non-disability equally. In common with a wide range of disability and other organisations, the DRC believes the context in which parents choose whether to have a child should be one in which disability and non-disability are valued equally.”

BBC reports that the DRC statement stressed that it did not oppose abortion and was not pressing for any part of the Act to be repealed. Rather, it was concerned with the information and advice women received from the medical profession since the act influenced the approach taken by many doctors.

Pro-lifers were pleased with the DRC statement noting that they had been campaigning to have the section of the act identified as discriminatory. Abortion groups were incensed calling it an “attack on the rights of women.”

See the BBC coverage: