The mother of a little girl with spina bifida has condemned a UKIP candidate’s calls to abort children with health difficulties.
Victoria Paine’s daughter Abigail was born with spina bifida but now aged five has gone on to defy doctors’ expectations and win gymnastics championships.
Mrs Paine, from Worthing, said she was horrified to hear the comments made by UKIP candidate Geoffrey Clarke calling for compulsory abortion for Down’s syndrome and spina bifida babies.
Mr Clarke said babies born with the conditions would be “a burden on the state as well as on the family”.
Concert Mrs Paine, who also runs a charity for children with disabilities called Parley, told The Argus she was horrified to hear his remarks.
She said: “My daughter is the best thing that ever happened to me and after hours and hours of spinal repair surgery at eight months old in London, she has gone on to win gold in her gymnastics championship and become fantastic at tennis.
"Who does this politician think he is making assumptions about our children and deciding on whether they have a future or not?
“My biggest concern is that parents who are currently carrying children with these conditions and faced with the difficult decision of deciding whether to continue with their pregnancies may have felt compelled to seek abortions because of these comments.
“I know many children with these conditions who grow up to live normal lives so how dare someone make this comment.”
Chelsea Harman, whose little brother Diego has Down’s syndrome, joined Mrs Paine in setting up a Facebook group condemning Mr Clarke’s remarks.
Ms Harman, also of Worthing, said: “My brother was born with Down’s syndrome August last year and never will be a burden to any of us.
“He is a beautiful 15-month-old toddler who is no different to any child.”
Worthing MP and former children’s minister Tim Loughton, who is patron of Parley charity, condemned Mr Clarke’s remarks He said: “Mr Clarke’s comments are quite simply repugnant and highlight his complete ignorance.
“What Mr Clarke needs to realise is that children who are born with disabilities have just as much right to life as those born without and are loved just as much by their parents.
"Due to the hard work of parents and charities such as Parley, disabled children and their parents can live happy lives and are nowhere near being a ‘burden’ on society.”
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Talking point: How do you feel about Geoffrey Clarke's statement? Share your views by commenting below or email The Argus letters pages email@example.com
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