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Woman With Down’s Syndrome Loses Abortion Law Appeal

November 28, 2022

A woman with Down’s syndrome has lost her appeal over a law that allows abortion up until birth for a foetus with the condition.

Heidi Crowter, 27, from Coventry said she was “angry that the judges say my feelings do not matter”.

Judges at the Court of Appeal decided the Abortion Act did not interfere with the rights of the living disabled.

Heidi said she and her team plan to “keep fighting” and take the case to the Supreme Court and “fight there”.

Under current legislation for England, Wales and Scotland, there is a 24-week time limit for abortion, unless “there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped”, which includes Down’s syndrome.

Heidi Crowter, who has the condition, argued that the rules were discriminatory to people with Down’s. She said the legislation “doesn’t respect my life” and brought a case against the government at the High Court in July 2021.

The case was brought by Ms Crowter and Maire Lea-Wilson, 33, from west London, whose son Aidan has Down’s syndrome.

In a summary of the decision, by Lord Justice Underhill, Lady Justice Thirlwall and Lord Justice Peter Jackson, the judges said: “The court recognises that many people with Down’s Syndrome and other disabilities will be upset and offended by the fact that a diagnosis of serious disability during pregnancy is treated by the law as a justification for termination, and that they may regard it as implying that their own lives are of lesser value.

“But it holds that a perception that that is what the law implies is not by itself enough to give rise to an interference with article 8 rights (to private and family life, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights).”

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