International Criminal Court to Investigate New Zealand’s Ante-natal Screening Programme

This past week has seen some exciting news regarding the antenatal screening programme in New Zealand.  The purpose of the programme is to detect Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida and other conditions in pre-born babies with the intention of preventing the birth of people with these conditions.

SavingDowns, an organisation that is raising awareness of the intent of New Zealand’s antenatal screening programme, took the case to the International Criminal Court.  The ICC has decided that the case has merit and will undertake a preliminary examination into the programme.  You can read the joint press release by SavingDowns and Spina Bifida Association (NZ) below.

On August 4th, 2012 Family Life International NZ and SavingDowns will be holding a joint one-day seminar “Loving Every Child:  Defying Eugenics”.  

This is an issue that people throughout New Zealand, and the world should be aware of.  It is one thing to screen for conditions antenatally in order to look after mother and baby to the best of the medical profession’s ability, and another altogether to screen in order to eliminate the birth of babies with certain conditions.

Mike Sullivan from SavingDowns was interviewed on  TVOne’s Breakfast show.

PRESS RELEASE: International Criminal Court to examine New Zealand antenatal screening programme

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has decided to initiate a formal preliminary examination into a complaint laid by SavingDowns against the New Zealand Government’s antenatal screening programme for Down syndrome and other conditions.

SavingDowns Spokesman Mike Sullivan says that the Prosecutor’s decision indicates that the ICC is taking the complaint very seriously and that the case has sufficient merit to warrant comprehensive legal analysis. The antenatal screening programme has a stated objective and outcome of preventing the birth of children with Down syndrome, Spina Bifida and various other conditions. Such programmes are eugenic, discriminatory and put parents under undue pressure to terminate wanted pregnancies.

The basis of the complaint is that the screening programme targets unborn children with Down syndrome and other rare conditions such as Spina Bifida for birth prevention. New Zealand is signatory to the Rome Statute, under which the ICC operates. The persecution of an identifiable group of the civilian population through birth prevention is prohibited under the Statute.

A preliminary examination by the ICC is the analytical process by which the Prosecutor assesses whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with a detailed investigation. SavingDowns has been advised by the ICC that the Prosecutor is now analysing the situation identified in their complaint.

Mr Sullivan welcomes this examination as an unprecedented step towards respecting the lives of those with Down syndrome, Spina Bifida and other conditions. Such people live awesome lives, are loved members of their families and communities, and should be afforded the full protection of international law on an equal basis with all.

SavingDowns and SBNZ call on the Government to immediately cease persecuting the Down syndrome and Spina Bifida communities through birth prevention. Antenatal screening must be solely directed towards ensuring these unborn children and their parents are provided with life affirming care at birth. By doing so, the Government can affirm their respect for all human life, including those with Down syndrome, Spina Bifida and other conditions.

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