Woman with Down’s Syndrome Loses Legal Appeal in UK to Stop Abortions of Unborn Disabled Babies
A woman who challenged Britain’s abortion law which allows parents to terminate a pregnancy in cases of severe fetal abnormality until birth has lost her case.
Speaking to Sky News ahead of the ruling, Heidi Crowter said if she lost in the High Court, she would appeal the ruling and continue to demand an end to “downright discriminatory” abortion laws.
Crowter, who married last year, said: “I don’t like having to justify my existence; it makes me feel like I’m not as valuable as someone else. It makes me feel like I shouldn’t be here. “
Abortions can take place during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy in England, Scotland and Wales. They must be approved by two doctors, who agree that having the baby would pose a greater risk to a woman’s physical or mental health than an interruption of pregnancy.
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After 24 weeks, a woman can have an abortion if she is at risk of serious physical and mental injury, or if the fetus has a disability, including Down syndrome.
At the start of the judgment of two high-ranking judges, they wrote: âThe issues which gave rise to this claim are very sensitive and sometimes controversial.
âThey generate strong feelings on all sides of the debate, including sincere differences of views on ethical and religious issues.
“This tribunal cannot enter into these controversies; it must decide the case only according to the law.”
Crowter said she was “really upset” by the judgment, but added: “I will continue to fight.”
Speaking alongside her husband James Carter, she said: âI’m really upset that I didn’t win, but the fight is not over.
“The judges might not think it discriminates against me, the government might not think it discriminates against me, but I tell you I feel discriminated against and the verdict does not change what I and thousands of members do of the Down’s syndrome community.
âWe face discrimination every day in schools, in the workplace and in society. Thanks to the verdict, the judges also confirmed the discrimination in the womb.
“It is a very sad day but I will continue to fight.”
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The joint lawsuit was also brought by Mayor Lea-Wilson, the mother of a baby with Down’s syndrome.
Lea-Wilson said, âI am a mom and I love and appreciate both of my boys the same way.
âToday’s High Court judgment does indicate that my two sons are not considered equal in the eyes of the law and I am incredibly sad and disappointed that the court has chosen not to recognize the value and worth of people with Down syndrome, like my son. Aidan.
âPeople with Down’s Syndrome face discrimination in all aspects of life, with the COVID pandemic really highlighting the dangerous and deadly consequences it can have.
“This decision tolerates discrimination, cementing the belief in society that their lives are not as precious as the lives of people without disabilities.”
However, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said women should have the right to “make tough decisions in heart-wrenching situations”.
BPAS CEO Clare Murphy said a change in the law “would force women to continue pregnancies with multiple abnormalities and deliver when the chances of survival are uncertain or unknown.”
She said the distinction between a fatal and non-fatal fetal anomaly is “not a clear white line” and that women should be able to make difficult decisions “against the background of significant medical complexities.”
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Murphy said the current law gives women time to understand the implications of a diagnosis and not to feel rushed into a decision.
“Conditions diagnosed later in pregnancy can be incredibly complex and very difficult for women and their partners,” she said. âWomen are best placed in these circumstances to determine what is right for them in the context of their own lives. “
She said the right of women to terminate a pregnancy “must be seen as distinct” from a society that promotes equal rights for people with disabilities.
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