A group of parents of children with Down syndrome have lodged a complaint with the International Criminal Court against the Governments screening programme for Down syndrome.
Group spokesman Mike Sullivan said the group has applied to the Office of the Prosecutor under theprovisions of Article 15.1 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Court has confirmed that the application is being considered.
The Prosecutor has been asked to investigate and intervene in the Ministry of Health’s antenatal screening programme, as it persecutes against people with Down syndrome through the prevention of their births.
Evidence was presented to the Court’s Prosecutors showing the screening programme prevents around 75% of births of people with Down syndrome in New Zealand.
The programme is promoted and funded by the government at a cost of $9.4M per year, or around $75,000 per unborn child diagnosed with Down syndrome.
The complaint names the Minister of Health as responsible for the programme under his statutory role. Article 27 of the Rome Statute provides that a role as a government official shall in no case exempt a person from criminal responsibility.
Mr Sullivan explained the complaint presents evidence obtained under the Official Information Act.
This includes details the previous Labour Minister of Health had foresight that the consequences of the screening programme would be the prevention of births of people with Down syndrome via selective abortion, leading to a significant reduction in their numbers.
“The current Minister of Health is continuing with the programme in the knowledge that the vast majority of pregnancies with Down syndrome will be aborted and has consistently refused to address any of our concerns,” Mr Sullivan said.
The group who lodged the complaint is comprised of 37 concerned parents, siblings and supportingorganisations, including a number of doctors.
The groups position statement is genetic screening must not be used to prevent the birth of unborn children with Down syndrome, as this is discrimination.
The group recognises genetic testing may help some parents prepare for the birth of a child with Down syndrome, in which case it should only be only directed towards safeguarding or healing the unborn child.