Ruling on abortion in Down syndrome: woman loses appeal to stop abortions in unborn babies | UK | News

A woman with Down syndrome has lost a Court of Appeals lawsuit over legislation allowing abortion of babies with the condition until birth. Heidi Crowter, 27, from Coventry, has taken legal action against the Department of Health and Social Care in hopes of scrapping a section of the abortion law she says is an “example of inequality”.

Under UK law, abortions can be performed up to 24 weeks, but if there is “a substantial risk that the child would have such physical or mental abnormalities at birth as to be severely disabled”, terminations are permitted until birth .

Summarizing the decision, by Lord Justice Underhill, Lady Justice Thirlwall and Lord Justice Peter Jackson, the judges said the law does not violate the rights of the “living disabled”.

They said: “The court recognizes that many people with Down syndrome and other disabilities will be upset and offended by the fact that a diagnosis of severe disability during pregnancy is treated by law as justification for termination, and that they being able to view it as implying that their own life is of lesser value.

“But it argues that the perception that that is what the law implies is not in itself sufficient to give rise to interference with Article 8 rights (to private and family life, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights) .”

After the verdict, Ms Crowter said she could take her case to the Supreme Court, saying it says to her “I’m not appreciated”.

She told reporters, “I am very upset not to win again, but I will continue to fight because we have already informed and changed hearts and minds and changed people’s opinion of the law.” I am very upset that babies with Down syndrome can be aborted until birth.

“This tells me that I am not valued and of much less value than someone without Down syndrome.

“I’m angry that the judges say my feelings don’t matter.

“That makes me feel like I’m not as valuable as a person without Down syndrome.” When we started this lawsuit not many people knew about the law, but now a lot of people know about the law thanks to us and you great support. “We want to thank everyone who donated time and money to our lawsuit.”

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Judges ruled last September that the legislation is not illegal and aims to strike a balance between the rights of the unborn child and those of the woman.

Jason Coppell KC, representing Ms Crowter, and Maire Lea-Wilson, the mother of Aidan, a young boy with Down syndrome, who filed the appeal with Ms Crowter, told the court in July: “The effect is that it living as a disabled person is stereotyped, or severely disabled, person as not worth living and certainly as worth less than living as an able-bodied person, thus affecting the self-esteem and self-confidence of disabled persons, such as Mrs. Crowter.

He said the language used in the law is “outdated” and considered offensive and unacceptable by some.

Down syndrome, the result of accidental birth with an extra chromosome, results in a degree of disability – some people are able to be independent and hold down a job, while others require more regular care.

Ruling on abortion in Down syndrome: woman loses appeal to stop abortions in unborn babies | UK | News

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