Is discrimination against people with Down’s syndrome not just another form of prejudice? – Brian Wilson

Down’s Syndrome people – is there any group which does so little harm to anyone yet attracts so much zeal for eliminating them?

Richard Dawkins has claimed it is immoral to continue with a pregnancy if the child has Down's Syndrome (Picture: Don Arnold/Getty Images)

Recently, we had Richard Dawkins telling Irish television it is “immoral to bring a Down’s child into the world if you have a choice”. Indeed, eliminating “any kind of disability would increase the amount of happiness in society”.

Dawkins is one of these celebrated men of opinion, showered with academic honours, who gets away with this stuff under the guise of science. Yet his words are as callous and ignorant as you might expect from the most uneducated bigot.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

While Dawkins courts controversy, society follows his advice. Over 90 per cent of Down’s births are prevented through abortion. (Nobody mentions the number of non-Down’s births terminated because tests have falsely suggested the condition).

There are plenty like Dawkins who want to finish the job – as is policy in Iceland and Denmark. That is why Heidi Crowter is more important than Dawkins. She is going to the High Court in London to challenge abortion law which allows Down’s terminations up to the point of birth, as opposed to 24 weeks.

Read More

Read More
Edinburgh teen stars in new book designed to dispel Down’s syndrome fears

Her lawyer says: "This is a hugely significant moment as the court has recognised it is arguable that the state is acting unlawfully towards babies with Downs Syndrome by allowing them to be aborted up to birth.”

In effect, society will say whether it agrees with Dawkins. Does the right to equality (and this is not a general debate about abortion) prevail – or is this the one form of prejudice that liberal society is willing to endorse?

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.