Pro-lifers may challenge abortion of disabled
A number of pro-life groups are considering the possibility of a legal challenge to UK law permitting prenatal screening and abortion of the disabled.
The groups may use a reference in the draft EU constitution banning countries from "eugenic practices" to achieve a ban on the screening out of babies with conditions such as Down's and spina bifida.
It requires "the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at the selection of persons".
However, pro-abortion groups such as the British Pregnancy
Advisory Service deny that aborting a child on grounds of disability is eugenic and have vowed to fight a ban.
Any such challenge would have to be made through the European Court of Justice. Liberal Democrat MEP Andrew Duff dismissed the challenge, claiming "the European Court of Justice would throw it out."
But professor Jack Scarisbrick, national director of the charity Life, said he was confident they could win.
"If you have a law which says special needs children can be killed, you are clearly practising eugenics," he told BBC News Online.
"It is weeding out substandard human beings."
The Pro Life Alliance said it was seeking legal advice on the issue.
"It is very early days, but we have asked for a legal opinion on it," its spokeswoman Josephine Quintavalle told BBC News Online.
"We are looking at whether the charter will give that sort of path of challenge. From what we have been told, the clause in the charter is unalterable."
However, a spokesman for the Foreign Office suggested they did not have a case.
"The article they are referring to will prohibit eugenics," he told BBC News Online.
"But in the explanatory guide which follows the article and which is supposed to be taken into account by the European judges it says that this refers to selection programmes.î
"This includes campaigns for sterilisation, forced pregnancies, compulsory ethnic marriage and all acts deemed to be international crimes in the statute of the international criminal court."
"The idea is not to restrict the individual or the individual's choice but rather to protect the individual."