The federal government’s proposed re-legalization of abortion would do “the greatest disservice to the disabled community possible” says a brief from a national non-profit organization representing people with mental handicaps.

The Toronto-based Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) warns that Bill C-43, now under study by a parliamentary committee, will perpetuate “the misconception that a disabled person or fetus (baby) is a devalued person.” CACL does not take a position one way or the other on abortion, but wants to ensure that discrimination against the handicapped does not extend into the womb.

Both the permissive view of health and the opinion of the doctor in the proposed law come in for the association’s criticism. Although Bill C-43 does not specially sanction eugenic abortion, the wide definition of risk to the mother’s health clearly implies it, the CACL brief states.

In the final analysis, it is the doctor who decides whether a woman’s continued pregnancy poses a threat to her health. But doctors, the CACL contends, “have been central in establishing an atmosphere which condones the rejection of persons with a disability.”