Nick Benson

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Paralympic legend reveals she was told to have an abortion

Paralympic legend Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson was offered an abortion at her first scan due to her disability.

The revelation came as the eleven-time Paralympic gold medallist opened up about discrimination against disabled people on a recent episode of BBC’s Para-sport podcast, Stumps Wheels and Wobblies.

During the discussion, Baroness Grey-Thompson, who gave birth to her daughter Carys in 2001, revealed how pregnant people with disabilities are pressured into aborting their unborn baby.

Speaking about her own experience, Baroness Grey-Thompson explained that a medical professional told her she should have an abortion.

“My daughter is 17 now, which is slightly scary, but when I was pregnant I lost count of the number of people who asked me how I got pregnant and the first thing I was offered at my first scan was a termination because people were like: ‘You should not have children’,” said Baroness Grey-Thompson.

“We had a discussion [with the medical staff] about whether I was trying for a baby…and the individual had some quite complicated views on disability,” she continued, noting that they included, “we [people with disabilities] might breed and we might spread”.

The baroness, who was born with spina bifida – a condition caused when a baby’s spine and spinal cord does not develop properly in the womb, explained that she had to answer a lot of questions about what she would do if her baby was disabled.

“I said I would make sure they have a really cool chair, not like the horrible chair I had until I was 15!” she added.

Continuing the discussion, Paralympic cyclist Hannah Dines said that she hoped these attitudes from 17 years ago had changed now.

However, actress and co-host Ruth Madeley explained that while working on her 2018 BBC documentary on spina bifida, she saw how “the first thing [expectant mothers of babies diagnosed with spina bifida] are offered is a termination and that is now”.

“The abortion rate is still 80 per cent, a lot of that is coming from a medical professional advising it,” she added.

Picture: Archive photo dated 30th December 2004, showing Tanni Grey Thompson getting a kiss from daughter Carys at her home, following the announcement of her being made a Dame in the Honours list for services to disabled sport in the New Year’s Honours. (John Giles/PA).

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