Human Rights Commission to prioritise Down syndrome discrimination

In light of the huge international interest around the surrogacy case involving baby Gammy and the father’s admission that he would have asked the surrogate mother to terminate her pregnancy if he’d known their son had Down syndrome, it is a significant development that in a world first, Saving Downs in New Zealand has secured a commitment from the Human Rights Commission to address prenatal discrimination against the Down syndrome and wider disability communities.

Saving Downs spokesman, Mike Sullivan explains: “The Commission has agreed to give high priority to addressing prenatal discrimination under their monitoring role for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The work will include the right to life, prenatal disability screening, euthanasia and other bioethical issues.”

Mr Sullivan described the news as a milestone event in Saving Downs’ advovacy and a great foundation for moving ahead with positive change for the Down syndrome community. “We are delighted to reach a point where the Commission has listened to, heard and acknowledged our important concerns around prenatal discrimination. We look forward to continuing our work with them in building a culture than honours and respects the diversity of all humanity, including those with Down syndrome.”

Saving Downs are particularly pleased that the perspectives of disabled people and their families will be central to the Commissions’ work.

Mr Sullivan extended his thanks to the Commission, saying “Our families deserve to be fully accepted and included on an equal basis with others. Thanks must go to the Disability Rights Commissioner, Paul Gibson, who has shown such commitement, leadership, endurance and integrity for taking this project on within the Commission”.

For further details, please refer to our blog. 
Mike Sullivan

Human Rights Commission to target Down Syndrome discrimination
Newstalk ZB 16 August 2014
The Human Rights Commission is to prioritise Down Syndrome discrimination in light of the recent case of an Australian couple who abandoned their surrogate child.

Baby Gammy’s father in a recent submission admitted he would have urged the surrogate mother to terminate the pregnancy if he had known his son had Down Syndrome.

Saving Downs spokesman Mike Sullivan says attitudes towards the syndrome need to change.

Mr Sullivan says having support and education available to soon-to-be mothers would help lower the number of Down Syndrome-related terminations in New Zealand.