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Archbishop Of Canterbury Reveals Hospital Pressure For Abortion

by | Wed, Jul 10 2024

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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has revealed that he and his wife Caroline felt pressured by hospital staff to abort their daughter Ellie because she had a disability, but they did not bow to that pressure. He made the disclosure during a debate that led to the Church of England General Synod unanimously passing a motion to uphold the human dignity of disabled children.

The Welbys have five children after losing a baby daughter in a car crash. Ellie is now 32-years-old and suffers from dyspraxia, a condition that affects movement and coordination. The Archbishop told the General Synod that it was expected that he and his wife Caroline would choose an abortion if a disability test during her pregnancy returned positive results.

The Telegraph reports he shared how hospital staff discussed the high costs associated with raising a child with disabilities, recalling: “Before Ellie was born, during the pregnancy, there was some concern, and a test was ordered. It was made very, very clear to my wife that if the test was taken and proved positive, it would be expected that we ask for a termination. It was not a neutral process because they said it’s expensive.”

Archbishop Welby described Ellie as: “Exceptionally precious because she’s wonderful, she’s kind, she is someone who gets cross and gets happy and gets sad. She’s not that severely disabled.” He has previously stated that he does not pray for Ellie in relation to her disability because it is part of her.

In a statement posted to social media this week, the head of the Anglican Church declared: “People with disabilities are a gift from God who must be cherished and allowed to thrive. I am pleased that (Synod) members voted to strengthen the church’s witness to the human dignity of all God’s children, reaffirming every person’s uniqueness and calling for better support for families of disabled children.”

The Archbishop’s remarks followed a motion by the Venerable Pete Spiers, an archdeacon from Liverpool, challenging the notion that raising children with disabilities is a tragedy, and calling for better support for parents of disabled children from healthcare providers while urging the government to ensure parents receive unbiased information about the condition their unborn child has been diagnosed with. The motion passed unanimously at the Synod with 312 votes in favour and none against.

The Church of England opposes abortions being carried out due to the unborn child being disabled. In a 2013 parliamentary debate, the Church described the law as “discriminatory”. The Abortion Act of 1967 allows terminations up until 24 weeks, with very limited circumstances permitting an abortion after 24 weeks, such as if the mother’s life is at risk, or if the child would be born with a severe disability.

Daniel Frampton from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) said: “The pressure many parents face to abort unborn children is one of the great healthcare scandals of our time. Archbishop Welby and his wife’s experience of this is far from unique.”

“The harmful narrative that disabled children are necessarily unwanted and a burden on the state has increasingly come to dominate the thinking of medical professionals in Britain. It’s up to the Government to correct this profoundly prejudiced approach that kills hundreds of unborn babies deemed ‘unworthy’ of life every year,” Mr. Frampton asserted.

“Nations are to be judged on how they treat their most vulnerable people, especially disabled children who are unable to speak for themselves. The UK continues to fail this test. It needn’t be this way, and SPUC implores Westminster’s new intake of MPs to set a new life-affirming standard that embraces all people.”