Laws calls parent a 'retard'

Michael Laws
Michael Laws
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 accept this.

"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 fate.

"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 name-calling.

"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 world.

"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 appreciate.''

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