‘Burden’ to blessing: New baby changes her parents’ minds on Down’s abortions

A couple who have a daughter with Down’s syndrome have called for a change in the law on disability-selective abortions.

Northamptonshire parents Steve and Natalie said they no longer support current legislation, which allows abortion up to birth for children deemed to have a disability – including Down’s syndrome.

Latest figures for England and Wales show that 760 babies believed to have Down’s syndrome were aborted in 2022, of which 19 were late-term abortions, carried out between 24 weeks gestation and birth.

No burden

Verity was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome shortly after her birth in February last year.

Fifteen months on, Steve reflects: “I was very much of the old-fashioned view that I didn’t want to take on that burden – that was the word that would have been in my head at the time.

“Now I can see how many possibilities there are for any child with a disability.”

Court battle

In 2022, Down’s syndrome campaigner Heidi Crowter lost a legal battle to outlaw disability-selective abortion after the Court of Appeal agreed with a High Court ruling which said abortion was a matter for Parliament to decide.

The Court of Appeal recognised people with Down’s syndrome may see the law “as implying that their own lives are of lesser value”, but decided such a perception did not by itself “give rise to an interference” with their human rights.

Heidi has said she intends to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

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