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'Compulsory abortion for all Down's and Spina Bifida babies': UKIP candidate sparks angry backlash with website comments

June 5, 2014 10:48 PM
Originally published by LDDA - The Liberal Democrat Disability Association

Disability charity Mencap branded Geoffrey Clarke's comments "abhorrent" after he claimed babies with such disabilities would be a "burden" if born

A UKIP candidate has been suspended by the party after calling for the compulsory abortion of all unborn babies with Down's syndrome or Spina Bifida.

Geoffrey Clarke, who is hoping to win a seat on Kent County Council, wrote on his website that babies with such disabilities would be a "burden" if born.

Learning disability charity Mencap has branded Mr Clarke's comments "abhorrent" and questioned whether he is fit for office.

In his personal manifesto Mr Clarke, who is also standing for Gravesham Borough Council in a by-election on Thursday, called for a Government review into NHS expenditure.

The review should "re-examine the pregnancy abortion time limit. Consider compulsory abortion when the foetus is detected as having Downs, spina bifida or similar syndrome which, if it is born, will render the child a burden on the state as well as on the family".

It should also look into medical treatment for people over the age of 80, which the 66-year-old says is "extraordinarily costly" to the NHS.

But Mr Clarke said that he does not actually endorse the provocative statements on his website.

"I do not endorse these ideas," he said later. "They are for the commission to consider how best to cut service levels if it is decided to do so."

Mark Goldring, chief executive of learning disability charity Mencap, said: "Mencap is disgusted and horrified by the manifesto of Kent County Council UKIP candidate Geoffrey Clarke who has proposed the compulsory abortion of any foetus with Down's syndrome or spina bifida.

"Much has been written about the Paralympics this summer changing attitudes towards disabled people for the better.

"Yet in the very same year, a council candidate has proposed forced eugenics against disabled people.

"It is abhorrent that Geoffrey Clarke sees disabled people solely as a burden when people with a learning disability lead full lives and make valuable contributions to their communities and families.

"We question if he is fit for public office."

In his manifesto, Mr Clarke also says same-sex marriage is an "abhorrence".

A UKIP spokesman said: "UKIP reject the abhorrent views expressed in the personal manifesto of Mr Geoffrey Clarke..

"The party was not aware of these views when it allowed him to stand under our name.

We can confirm that Mr Clark has been formally suspended as a UKIP candidate. His membership is undergoing disciplinary hearing.

UKIP would like to apologise to anyone who has suffered distress as a result of this matter."