THE SOCIETY for the Protection of Unborn Children began a new campaign to fight for the rights of handicapped babies by placing a dramatic half page advertisement in The Times on Monday this week.
The advertisement. written by the former pro-life candidate for Croydon North-West, Marilyn Carr, begins: "I'm writing this message with my foot.
"I live a very full and active life, even though I am severely handicapped. I was severely handicapped when I was born. The kind of baby that is sometimes left to die these days. I believe they call it "mercy killing". Mercifully — I was allowed to live."
The campaign. led by a group of people who are either severely disabled themselves or parents of handicapped children, follows in the wake of the Dr Arthur trial, in which the judge made it clear that the verdict would not alter the law.
"All that is needed, Phyllis Bowman of SPUC told the Herald, "is for Gerard Vaughan (Minister for Health) to send round a circular to all the hospitals telling doctors to treat newborn handicapped babies like any other patient." One of those who support the campaign is Dr Peter Moreton, who was born spastic in Derby City Hospital in which Dr Leonard Arthur works. Dr Moreton now lectures in management studies at Leeds
University. Commenting on the trial, Dr Moreton's wife said this week: "I personally think it is the thin end of the wedge."
In a statement to the press, one of the campaign leaders, Mrs Maria Williams who is blind, said: "We all of us know many handicapped people or parents of disabled people who have become thoroughly alarmed at the growing acceptance of the "mercy killing" of handicapped babies. However, the problem is organising disabled people so that they can speak for themselves and the whole aim of the campaign is to provide them with a platform and form them into an active political lobby ...
"We already have some hundreds of members who are either disabled themselves or who are parents of disabled children. Well over 100 of them have already said that they are willing to have their names and addresses published."
The statement goes on to say: "If parents rejects a child. that child must not be killed. Society must accept the responsibility for the child and there are. thankfully. an increasing number of people more than delighted to adopt handicapped children, including mentally handicapped children. The reaction of some parents to handicapped children was what initially influenced doctors in pre-Nazi Germany and paved the way for mass social killing."