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UK court rules babies with Down's syndrome can be aborted up to birth


Heidi Crowter - image SPUC

Heidi Crowter - image SPUC

Source: SPUC,ICN

Down's syndrome campaigner Heidi Crowter, lost her legal challenge on Friday after the Court of Appeal ruled that babies with Down's syndrome can be aborted to birth. Pro-life campaigners have slammed the ruling as "callous".

Under current UK law abortion can be carried out until 24 weeks and then up to birth if the unborn baby is suspected of having a disability. Heidi Crowter, 27, is seeking a change in the law on the grounds that it is a clear "instance of inequality" regarding people with conditions like her own and is accordingly incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

After losing a legal challenge at the High Court in September last year, Heidi took her case to the Court of Appeal, which on Friday, 25 November, concluded that "it is a question which is for Parliament, and not the Courts, to decide."

Commenting on the ruling, Heidi said: "I am very upset that babies with Down's Syndrome can be aborted up to birth. This tells me that I am not valued and of much less value than a person without Down's Syndrome… I am angry that the judges say that my feelings don't matter. That makes me feel that I am not as valuable as a person without Down's Syndrome."

Heidi nevertheless vowed to take her case to the Supreme Court: "I am very upset not to win again, but I will keep on fighting because we have already informed and changed hearts and minds and changed people's opinions about the law."

Alithea Williams, SPUC Public Policy Manager, said: "Although they lost their challenge today, Heidi and her team have illustrated the discrimination inherent in allowing babies to be aborted up to birth because they are considered 'handicapped' under an outdated and callous law.

"They have drawn attention to something that our 'civilised' society likes to ignore - that babies can be legally killed, without anaesthetic, up to the very moment of birth, because they have Down's syndrome or another disability.

"We hope that this case will open society's eyes to the discrimination inherent in all abortion - that a human being can be killed because they are 'unwanted' or inconvenient, or the wrong gender, or simply too young and vulnerable to protect themselves."

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