Learning disability charity Mencap has reacted with horror to a personal election manifesto by a UKIP candidate that proposes considering the compulsory abortion of any foetus with Down’s syndrome or Spina Bifida, calling it “forced eugenics against disabled people.”
In his manifesto for the Gravesham Council, Kent County Council and UKIP’s National Executive Committee elections, Geoffrey Clarke has proposed considering “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.”
Mark Goldring, chief executive of Mencap, said: “Mencap is disgusted and horrified by the manifesto of… Geoffrey Clarke. 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.”
A statement from the Down’s Syndrome Association said the organisation was “shocked and saddened” by Clarke’s manifesto.
“There are approximately 60,000 people living with Down’s syndrome in the UK and neither we nor their families consider them a burden to society,” the statement continued. “Each and every single one of them is much moved and valuable as an individual by their family, friends and the wider community.”
A spokesman for UKIP said the party was “shocked and appalled” by this claim in Clarke’s manifesto.
“We are launching an urgent review into his position and what he said. He won’t be standing for UKIP again.”
Clarke’s manifesto was initially updated with a notice of clarification on the proposal: “I do not, and UKIP does not, endorse any of these ideas: they are suggestions of matters for the review body to properly consider in light of the stated desire of all political parties to reduce the national debt.”
However, the manifesto was later taken down from his website.