Repeal is 'akin to a licence to kill over disability'
A leading disability rights campaigner and member of the British House of Lords is urging voters to vote No in the upcoming referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment to save the lives of unborn babies with disabilities.
Kevin Shinkwin, a Conservative party member and former equality and human rights commissioner for the UK, claims repealing the Eighth Amendment would be akin to granting a "licence to kill" babies based on congenital abnormalities.
Mr Shinkwin, who was born with brittle bone disease which has left him confined to a wheelchair, said he fears if the Yes side succeeds, there will be a sharp increase in the number of babies with congenital abnormalities who are aborted. Speaking to the Irish Independent last night on a visit to Dublin this weekend, he said: "I'm here as a disabled parliamentarian. I'm horrified about the implications of a referendum Yes vote.
"Essentially a Yes vote is a licence to kill because of disability," he said, adding he is not affiliated with any groups or individuals on the No side.
"Recent statistics in the UK show a new trend towards disability-related abortion."
Citing statistics from 2016, he claimed there has been a 58pc increase in the number of terminations in the UK on the basis of future disability, including a 38pc increase in the number of babies who are terminated after scans revealed they have Down syndrome.
"The point is that right now, Ireland is one of the safest places in the world to be diagnosed (antenatal) with a disability," he said of the current legislation. "Disabled people with congenital conditions like mine need protection. Ireland is a safe haven."
His own condition, osteogenesis imperfecta - a genetic disorder which causes bones to break easily - was not diagnosed until after he was born. But he said his parents were not despondent over the diagnosis.
He said he has lived a full life even though "my disability has taken me to hell and back". "But as a disabled person, I might have been a candidate for abortion."