Down’s syndrome campaigners call for equal protection from abortion

Down’s syndrome campaigners have called for the law on abortion to be amended to end the discrimination against unborn children with ‘non-fatal’ disabilities.

Currently, abortion is permitted for most reasons up to 24 weeks, but it is available up to birth for those diagnosed with a disability.

In Great Britain, 92 per cent of those diagnosed with Down’s syndrome in the womb are aborted.

‘Deeply offensive’

Speaking on the Victoria Derbyshire programme, Heidi Crowter, 24, who is leading the campaign with her mother Liz, said: “I find it deeply offensive, because I am someone with the condition, and I would say that there is no difference between someone without Down’s syndrome and someone with Down’s syndrome.”

“there is a person behind that chromosome”

Asked how she felt about the law permitting abortion for Down’s syndrome, she said: “It makes me feel unloved and unwanted.

“In the film Cats, there’s a cat called Grisabella, and all the cats hated Grisabella, so it makes me feel like Grisabella.”

Heidi is seeking crowdfunding to help finance the campaign.

Pressure to abort

Cheryl Bilsborrow, whose son Hector has the condition, told Derbyshire the discrepancy in the law is “downright discrimination”.

“We think that all babies, children, everyone should be treated equal. I mean look at Hector, and also Heidi, there’s no difference between any of us at the end of the day. We are all human.”

“We are all human.”

She added that when she was pregnant, she felt pressured both to have a test for Down’s syndrome and, when the test was positive, she was pressured to abort, even up to full term.

“I was completely blown away. Shocked and disgusted. And here he is, Hector, and he is absolutely beautiful.”

‘Don’t be scared’

Derbyshire also asked Heidi what she would say to a couple who had received news their unborn child could have Down’s syndrome.

Heidi responded: “I’d say, don’t be scared, and carry on with the pregnancy. And I would also give the advice to meet someone with Down’s syndrome, and really get to know them and really see that there is a person behind that chromosome.”

The programme was flooded with responses from other parents of children with Down’s syndrome coming out in support of the campaign.


Cheryl, Heidi and Liz are being backed in their attempt to change the law by campaign group Don’t Screen Us Out and actress Sally Phillips, whose son Olly also has the condition.

Phillips said: “Given advances in medical care and quality of life for people with Down’s syndrome, the different right to life is beginning to look not just dated but barbaric.”

Paul Conrathe, the lawyer supporting the families, said: “This case addresses a matter that is fundamentally discriminatory — that unborn babies with a disability, and in this case Down’s syndrome, should be aborted up to birth.”


The campaigners have written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to ask for a change in the law.

UK abortion giant BPAS said it opposed “any attempt to stop women from making their own decisions about whether or not to continue a pregnancy”.

Related Resources