PRESS RELEASE: 1 November 2012
Further evidence to be provided to the International Criminal Court on antenatal screening complaint
Saving Downs is following up with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), filing a request for full reasoning to guide additional information needed to support their complaint against the New Zealand Government’s antenatal screening programme for Down syndrome and other conditions. The ICC launched a preliminary examination of the complaint in June 2012 and the Prosecutor has indicated that additional facts and information are required to enable the ICC to have jurisdiction to proceed with further analysis.
Mike Sullivan, Spokesperson for SavingDowns said that the consideration of the complaint was an important and positive step forward towards respecting the lives of those with Down syndrome, Spina Bifida and other conditions. “We welcome the opportunity to provide the Prosecutor with additional information to secure further analysis and the positive resolution of our complaint” he said.
Spina Bifida New Zealand Spokesperson Diane Belcher explained that the current screening programme has a stated objective and outcome of preventing the birth of children diagnosed prenatally with Spina Bifida, Down syndrome and some other conditions. As detailed in our recent blog there is mounting evidence in New Zealand that parents are being put under undue pressure to terminate wanted pregnancies when receiving a positive diagnosis of such conditions, which is discriminatory and eugenic. Children should not be selected based on their biological difference or disability.
“It is vitally important for our communities to ensure that antenatal screening exists only to provide unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome, Spina Bifida and other conditions and, more importantly their families, with life-affirming, unconditional and unbiased care, support and accurate information about living positively with these conditions.” Mr Sullivan explained. He also noted that “The ICC has a mandate to ensure that such communities are not targeted for birth prevention”.
SavingDowns and Spina Bifida New Zealand have asked that the Ministry of Health revise the antenatal screening programme in such a way that it is solely directed towards life affirming care. In doing so, we believe the Government would be affirming their respect for all human life, including those with Down syndrome, Spina Bifida and other conditions.