Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Paralympics: Celebrating Disability vs Abortion Laws

James Parker is the Catholic Coordinator of the 2012 Games and first ever lay Catholic chaplain to serve at the Paralympic Games has had an interview reported concerning his belief that many of the "superstar" "heroes" of the Games could well have been aborted under UK laws.

On his interview for Vatican Radio he calls for Christians and others who value human life to challenge the government with renewed effort to bring about change in Britain’s “discriminatory and outdated abortion laws”.

As the hugely successful Paralympic Games draw to a close, he said, “My own experience of the Paralympic Village, the heavily guarded home to all the athletes and officials alongside the Olympic Park, is that it is a sacred place.”

He said the Village is strewn with wheelchairs, crutches, bodies of every shape, size, and so-called ‘disfigurement’ imaginable. And yet there is a stronger sense of community, and a vibrant tangible passion for life, that not even the greatest town or city could boast. The organising committee, LOCOG, has taken great care to provide an amazing ambience where people of every ability can live with ease.”

“The joy in the Village is palpable... It is a place where everyone is celebrated and honoured whether a medallist or not, and each person is in service of their neighbour. I am constantly reminded of the words of St Lawrence when, in the year 258, he was commanded by the Emperor Valerian to bring to him the Church’s treasury. Days later he brought before the Emperor the poor, crippled, and maimed and stated: “Behold the jewels of the Church!” He was then martyred for such a simple action.”

Parker had previously mentioned that “we see the word ‘Superhumans’ on our billboards and yet Paralympians are no different to any other human being. They often have greater degrees of adversity to overcome but this is an aspect of any life that truly wishes to be lived to the full."

“What is astounding is that Britain is enabling the eyes of the world to be opened to the giftedness and potential of those with disabilities through its hosting of the Paralympic Games. However, its own laws vehemently and shockingly discriminate against any new life in the womb that might possibly be affected by a physical handicap, genetic problems or a mental defect."

Parker was very surprised to discover that many Paralympians “don’t even realise that, should their team mates have been conceived in Britain today, they would most likely be aborted. If Britain wishes to retain its place towards the head of the medals table at future Paralympic Games in decades to come then it needs to seriously consider changing its laws to stop discriminating against what is presently termed as an ‘unacceptable quality of life’. Games aside, any society that wishes to be healthy needs to increasingly value disability and non-disability equally."

“The Christian community needs as a whole, along with others who share our beliefs on the dignity of human life, to continue to take the lead and, like St Lawrence, to stridently work towards changing Britain’s discriminatory and outdated abortion laws. If this issue is not addressed as we wave goodbye to the Paralympic Games from our shores, then it is hard to imagine when another opportunity of this sort will pass our way when British society and the world as a whole is celebrating the incredulous achievements of those with disabilities."

“Imagine how much lesser of a nation we would be without the lives of athletes like Ellie Simmonds, and how much greater a Britain we could be if more ‘disabled’ people of her ability were to be born, affirmed and celebrated.”

Read original article here:

This raises the debate on abortion laws in the UK. Many questions are raised, given modern medicine, in what circumstances should be a request for an abortion labeled as Ground E be accepted. That is when there is a “substantial risk” that the baby would be “seriously handicapped”. However this is on occasion liberally interpreted... last year there was a report in to the number of babies with lips and palates, as well as with “congenital malformations of the ear, eye, face or neck” (this can include problems such as having glaucoma or being born with an ear missing) aborted under this category. Read more here.

Is James Parker correct? Is it sensationalist to claim that many of our GB Paralympians could have been aborted? He also seems to imply that these type of abortions are rise? It reverts to the fundamental question, on what grounds can an abortion be granted?

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