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Abortion and disability

Young people's attitudes to abortion for fetal abnormality: report of the findings of a study looking at school and university students' opinions presents the findings of a piece of research carried out in the Autumn of 1997 and Spring of 1998, at schools and at the university in Oxford. While the research findings do not give definitive answers about how young people think about abortion for fetal abnormality, hopefully what has been found out can provide some useful insights about the issues which shape the views of the 15 to 24 age range on this subject. The research was co-ordinated by Jenny Davey, and thanks are due to the group of students involved with Oxford Pro-Choice Forum who helped carry out the research, namely Maxine Lattimer, Clare Murphy, Simon Clarke, Donna Clark, Ellen Kelly and Peter Currie. Thanks also to Dave Perks for his assistance with data analysis.

It is important to emphasise that while the contents of this publication hopefully make stimulating and interesting reading, the main reason we have for publishing it is to contribute to the development of pro-choice ideas and arguments. Abortion for fetal abnormality has become thought of as a 'difficult issue' within pro-choice circles. While there is good reason for this perception of the question, in our view it is necessary to find ways to make the issue less difficult to argue on. It is important to find ways to ensure that those of us with a pro-choice outlook can be confident in making the case for a woman's right to abortion for whatever reason she sees fit, including where the fetus is abnormal. To do so means we need to understand as fully as possible why there might be objections to abortion on this ground, and formulate a convincing response. We hope that this publication can contribute towards that process.

Ellie Lee and Jenny Davey August 1998

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