Channel 4 commissions ‘Disability & Abortion: The Hardest Choice’ from RDF & Hey Sonny

9 August, 2022

BAFTA-nominated actor Ruth Madeley and actor and swimmer Ruben Reuter to front 1×60’ unflinching documentary on disability and abortion.

British law states that unborn babies diagnosed as being at risk of severe impairments or health conditions can be terminated up until full term. Disability campaigners recently lost a landmark court case asking for the law to be changed on the grounds it discriminates against disabled people.

Now Channel 4 have commissioned RDF (part of Banijay UK), and Sheffield based Hey Sonny Films, to produce a powerful 1×60’ documentary which examines the complex and nuanced issues around terminating a pregnancy where there may be a chance of certain impairments or conditions – not just for parents but for society at large, raising important questions about what it is like to live as a disabled person, and how disabled people are supported and viewed in society.

Currently, when ‘serious foetal abnormalities’ are diagnosed – ranging from life-limiting congenital lung malformations to Down’s syndrome, and spina bifida – parents are offered an abortion by doctors, up to the full term of the pregnancy. This pioneering documentary – produced and presented by disabled talent – will reveal the emotional issues at play when determining how decisions are made and what freedoms and protections society should hand individuals, couples and doctors to decide the fate of unborn babies with certain conditions. Is the current law fit for purpose, and if not – how should it be changed? And what would you do, if you discovered your unborn baby was going to be disabled?

The film is presented by BAFTA-nominated actor Ruth Madeley and actor Ruben Reuter, who have spina bifida and Down’s syndrome respectively themselves, and will explore the ethics and experiences of disability and abortion across a range of perspectives.

Ruth Madeley says:

“Exploring the emotional intricacies surrounding disability and the law was an incredibly challenging & eye-opening experience. To have the opportunity to unpack & learn about such an important subject whilst also celebrating disability alongside Ruben is an experience that will stay with me forever.”

Ruben Reuter adds: “I am so pleased and proud and happy to be working on such an amazing programme. I hope that exploring this subject will make a difference to people like me and help everyone think about our rights. Like I always say – never give up!”

Shaminder Nahal, Head of Specialist Factual at Channel 4 said:

“Abortion is one of the most challenging issues around – and this film asks one of the most complex ethical questions many of us face involving abortion – is the law fit for purpose regarding abortion and disability? I can’t thank Ruth Madeley and Ruben Reuter enough for taking on this unbelievably complicated issue in all its nuances – one that is so personal and so profound. I defy anyone who watches this film not to challenge how they really feel about whether our approach as a society is right. I’m also hugely grateful to the teams at Hey Sonny and RDF for taking on this kind of challenging territory that is so much a part of Channel 4’s essential remit and purpose.”

Kate Monaghan at Hey Sonny says:

“We at Hey Sonny are delighted to be working with RDF and Channel 4 to bring this important documentary to a wide audience. As a disability-led and disability-focussed company, this subject has been something we’ve been trying to get people talking about for a long time. And now to be able to work with Ruth and Ruben to do this feels like a true moment of ground-breaking television which is led by and telling the stories of disabled people.”

Maia Liddell, Executive Producer at RDF, says:

“This film will give a powerful and profound insight into the hugely challenging issues surrounding disability and abortion. We are incredibly excited to be working with Hey Sonny, alongside Ruth and Ruben, who are both passionate and empathetic storytellers, and we are proud that this film is being led and made by those with personal experience of this area.”

Questioning what it’s like to have been born disabled and debating whether the current abortion laws are fit for purpose, Disability and Abortion: The Hardest Choice will air in August.

Disability & Abortion: The Hardest Choice is produced by RDF, part of Banijay UK, and Hey Sonny Films for Channel 4. It is executive produced by Maia Liddell and directed by Kate Monaghan. Shaminder Nahal is Commissioning Editor for Channel 4.