Down’s syndrome abortion law ‘demeaning’, High Court hears

The current abortion law “stereotypes and demeans” those with Down’s syndrome, the High Court has heard.

Human rights expert Jason Coppel QC argued the 1967 Abortion Act “perpetuates and reinforces negative cultural stereotypes to the detriment of people with disabilities”.

Coppel was representing Heidi Crowter alongside Máire Lea-Wilson and her son Aiden in their case against Health Secretary Sajid Javid arguing the UK’s abortion law is discriminatory.

‘Abuse’

Under current legislation, abortion is permitted up to 24 weeks for most reasons. But, following a change to the law in 1990, it is available up to birth for children deemed to have a ‘severely life-limiting condition’ – including Down’s syndrome.

The three argue that this is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and that it is a “contributory cultural cause” of abuse against those with Down’s syndrome.

Coppel told Lord Justice Singh and Mrs Justice Lieven that the claimants “continue to suffer a serious diminution in the perception of the value of their lives, which affects all aspects of their day-to-day life”.

he’s not someone people have to cope with, he’s not a burden to society, he is a wonderful human being in his own right

Up to birth

Lea-Wilson said she wanted her son Aidan, who has the condition, to “grow up knowing he’s not someone people have to cope with, he’s not a burden to society, he is a wonderful human being in his own right”.

The last time I was asked to terminate the pregnancy was two days before he was born

The mother added: “I was 34 weeks pregnant when I discovered Aidan had Down’s syndrome and I was asked if I wanted to terminate the pregnancy in the context of a lot of medically-biased information, and my own grief, three times.

“The last time I was asked to terminate the pregnancy was two days before he was born.”

Not sorry

Speaking outside the High Court, Heidi Crowter – who has the condition herself – told supporters the current law makes her feel she would be “better off dead”.

“Everybody is equal, and doctors shouldn’t tell women that they will be sorry if their child is born. They should be supporting them.”

doctors shouldn’t tell women that they will be sorry if their child is born

The case concluded earlier this week but a judgment is not expected for some time.

Public Health England figures show that more than 85 per cent of babies with a Down’s syndrome diagnosis are aborted.

Also see:

Downs girl

Down’s syndrome campaigners at High Court to challenge ‘deeply offensive’ abortion law

Mum who refused to abort son with Down’s syndrome shares “unspeakable joy”

Bioethicist hits out at ‘discriminatory’ abortion law

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