Under consideration PE1996: Take action to prevent discriminatory abortions for disability in Scotland

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to legislate to ensure that abortions cannot take place after 24 weeks in circumstances where the child is likely to have a disability.

Previous action taken

An MSP was contacted to initiate a Member's Bill on this issue but declined to take the proposal further.

Background information

The Abortion Act 1967, specifically Section 1(1)(d), enables a termination up until birth if the foetus has a disorder but restricts abortions to 24 weeks if the foetus has no disability. In other words, a non-disabled foetus is better protected in law from being terminated, which may express a clear discriminatory message that any resulting non-disabled child’s life has more value and worth than that of a child with a disability.

Thus, in the same way as discriminatory terminations on the basis of sex are criminalised under 1ZB(1) of the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, abortion law in Scotland should not authorise any practice designed to secure that any resulting child will be of one disability/ability rather than another.

Indeed, since disability and sex are both protected characteristics under the UK Equality Act 2010, they should be considered in the same way.

  • Created by Calum MacKellar on behalf of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics
  • Considered from 12 January 2023

This petition is now under consideration by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee

Find out about the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee’s discussion of this petition

2,026 signatures