‘The fight is not over’: Woman with Down syndrome loses UK abortion law challenge

International

Campaigner Heidi Crowter looks on after speaking to the media after her court case, outside the High Court in London, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. A woman with Down’s syndrome has lost a court challenge against the British government over a law allowing the abortion up until birth of a foetus with the condition. Heidi Crowter, 26, and two others argued that part of the Abortion Act is discriminatory. Abortions in England, Wales and Scotland are allowed up till 24 weeks of pregnancy, but terminations can be allowed up until birth if there is “a substantial risk” that if the child were born it would suffer from serious abnormalities. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — A woman with Down syndrome lost a court challenge against the British government Thursday over a law allowing the abortion up until birth of a fetus with the condition.

Heidi Crowter, 26, and two others took the Department of Health and Social Care to court, arguing that part of the Abortion Act is discriminatory and violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

Abortions in England, Wales and Scotland are allowed up till 24 weeks of pregnancy. But the law states that terminations can be allowed up until birth if there’s “a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped,” which includes Down syndrome.

Crowter has said that she found the legislation “offensive” and disrespectful, and that she wanted to change the law to challenge people’s perception of Down syndrome.

Two judges dismissed the case Thursday after a two-day hearing, concluding that the legislation isn’t unlawful and that it aims to strike a balance between the rights of the unborn child and that of women.

Crowter brought the case with Maire Lea-Wilson, 33, who has a son with Down syndrome, and an unidentified child with the condition.

She said she plans to appeal the ruling.

“The fight is not over,” Crowter said outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, surrounded by supporters.

“We face discrimination every day in schools, in the workplace and in society. Thanks to the verdict, the judges have upheld discrimination in the womb too,” she said.

Paul Conrathe, a lawyer from the firm representing the three claimants, called the judgment disappointing and “out of step with modern attitudes to disability.”

“By allowing babies with (Down) syndrome to be aborted up to birth, unlike neurotypical babies, the law sends a powerful message that the lives of people with (Down) syndrome are of lesser value,” he said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss