Down’s syndrome campaigners to take case to Europe

Down’s syndrome campaigners Heidi Crowter and Máire Lea-Wilson have announced their intention to take the fight against disability-selective abortions to the highest court in Europe.

The campaigners hope to get “equality for babies with disability in the womb” at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg after permission to appeal at the UK Supreme Court was refused.

Under Britain’s current legislation, abortion is permitted up to 24 weeks for most reasons but is available up to birth for children deemed to have a disability – including Down’s syndrome.


In 2020, Heidi and Máire were given permission to challenge the law.

But the High Court rejected the case in September 2021, saying it was a matter for Parliament. The right to appeal was granted in March the following year.

At appeal, the campaigners argued that to allow the abortion of a child with Down’s syndrome or other “serious handicaps” – particularly after 24 weeks – is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, the Court of Appeal dismissed the campaigners’ case, stating that the Abortion Act 1967 “does not interfere with the rights of the living disabled”.


In an update on crowdjustice, Heidi announced: “The Supreme Court have said they didn’t want to hear the case. But we don’t want to give up.”

She added: “At the moment a baby with DS can be aborted RIGHT UP TO BIRTH. We think that’s #downrightdiscrimination”.

Heidi also said that she and fellow campaigner Máire would “try everything to get people to realise the discrimination going on in front of their eyes” and they were prepared to “take the fight all the way to Strasbourg”.

“If we win there the case will affect the law across the whole of Europe.”

Also see:

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