Whanganui District Health Board member, councillor and
former mayor Michael Laws is in hot water after calling the
parent of a child with Down syndrome a "retard''.
Mr Laws has been embroiled in discussion on Facebook where he
suggested all pregnancies found positive for Down syndrome
should be aborted in an effort to "eradicate'' the condition.
The Chronicle was alerted to the discussion by Hamilton man
Keith Maynard, whom Mr Laws called a fascist and a "retard''
in a private exchange on the social network.
In the messages Mr Maynard, whose son Keegan has Down
syndrome, said he was advocating for "fair and reasonable
information for expectant parents'' but Mr Laws did not
"Let's be honest shall we: you lot had the really bad luck to
have a Downs child. For some twisted reason, because you've
drawn the short straw, you think others should share your
"We choose and would choose to abort such ... and fascists
like you want that test and choice denied,'' Mr Laws wrote.
Mr Maynard said he supported pre-natal screening for
conditions like Down syndrome.
"I would, however, differ from your own extremist views in as
much as once a diagnosis is confirmed the parent be given
balanced and honest information so that a truly informed and
intelligent choice may be made.''
Mr Maynard told the Chronicle he was incensed Mr Laws held a
position of power and responsibility in the health board and
called the exchange "unfortunate'' and "disturbing''.
"To say I am appalled by his manner and rudeness would be an
understatement. I am horrified that he holds a position
within the Whanganui DHB. He very obviously has an agenda
that most people would be repulsed by.''
Mr Maynard said he found this point of view reminiscent of
the eugenics programmes in Nazi Germany, which prompted Mr
Laws to call him "a retard''.
But yesterday Mr Laws said he did not regret the
"He insulted me in a private conversation, so I insulted him
back. On the contrary, I feel I have the responsibility as a
district health board member to call out the Maynards of this
"He's started a hate campaign against me, he's set up a hate
site and he hasn't properly represented the [Facebook]
conversation. He invaded my private Facebook, which I do not