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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Alison Davis, leader of SPUC's division for disabled people, is mourned

3 December 2013

London, 3 December 2013: Alison Davis, the leader of No Less Human, the division for disabled people within the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), died this morning at 08:40 GMT, aged 58. She had been unwell for several years, and a long-term difficulty in eating resulted in her sad passing this morning.

John Smeaton, SPUC's director, commented: "Everyone in SPUC and the whole pro-life movement will be greatly saddened at her passing. Frail in body, she was full of strength in defence of the most defenceless human beings - disabled unborn children. Her keen insight and uncompromising solidarity have proved a powerful defence for the sick and disabled targeted with euthanasia.

"Her own early struggle with temptations to suicide made her an exceptional witness that life is always worth living. Alison's strong Catholic faith and her love of children moved her to care for disabled children in India. Countless people touched by her life will now be praying that Alison, her family and her friends will receive the peace they seek."

Dr Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's Education Manager, said: "Alison was a great pro-life warrior, and a wonderful example to us all of one who accepted her sufferings with astonishing equanimity. I also wish to pay tribute to Colin Harte, whose care for Alison was heroic, constant, and expert, and who greatly enhanced Alison's quality of life in every possible way."

Alison Davis and SPUC's division for disabled people ("No Less Human")

Alison Davis, who led SPUC’s No Less Human since 1982, had spina bifida and was a major commentator on anti-life philosophies and policies which discriminate, lethally, against disabled people. No Less Human, SPUC’s division for disabled people, their loved ones and carers promotes the equal status, worth and rights of disabled people, including the most fundamental right of all – the  right to life, from conception to natural death.

In spite of serious illness, Alison continued to write, publish and broadcast on the eugenic nature of the Abortion Act and on healthcare, government policies, which treat disabled lives as expendable – including major interviews on BBC’s Newsnight, the BBC World Service’s series Heart and Soul: Choosing Life and leading letters in the national newspapers throughout Britain.

In addition, in August 2009 she published a paper showing how euthanasia has spread, starting with the 1992 Bland judgment, and how it has expanded as a result of the 2005 Mental Capacity Act and came to be implemented through the Liverpool Care Pathway. In September 1982, in his report to SPUC’s national council, John Smeaton proposed that Alison Davis should be asked to join the Council to represent SPUC’s Handicap Division, now known as No Less Human. The minutes state that the proposal "was warmly agreed by the Council".

Alison's early involvement in SPUC

Not long before, Alison, who had previously been in favour of abortion, had changed her mind on the issue, having read about a baby named Louise born in High Wycombe Hospital who was found to have both spina bifida and hydrocephalus. In Alison’s words:

"Her paediatrician, Dr. Donald Garrow, persuaded her parents that she would be ‘better off dead’ as she would be unable to walk, and would thus compare herself unfavourably with her two able-bodied sisters ...  Dr. Garrow made a video of her last days which was shown on daytime TV, and which I saw. Louise's face was grey, her eyes sunken. I wrote to Dr. Garrow at the hospital and explained that I was disabled to just the extent that Louise had been, and that I felt he had made a horribly wrong decision. In response he invited me to speak to his ‘team’ at the hospital, which I accepted. I cannot remember exactly what I said, but I pointed out that life with spina bifida and hydrocephalus could be full and happy, and that it was in any case wrong to deliberately kill any child on grounds of his/her disability."

Alison remained at the helm of SPUC’s work for disability rights ever since, speaking at SPUC’s Mother Teresa Rally in 1983 and joining SPUC's full-time staff in 2000.

For further information, please contact John Smeaton, SPUC director, on landline 020 7820 3128 or mobile 07785 325808.

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