Woman with Down syndrome loses abortion case in appeal court | Down syndrome

A woman with Down syndrome has lost an appeal court challenge over late-term abortions of fetuses with certain medical conditions.

Heidi Crowter, who brought the case alongside Máire Lea-Wilson, whose son Aidan also has Down’s syndrome, had argued that allowing pregnancy terminations until birth if the fetus has the condition is discriminatory and stigmatizes people with disabilities.

But in a ruling on Friday, three senior judges rejected the appeal and said abortion laws belonged to parliament.

Crowter, 27, said she was “absolutely devastated” by the ruling and that the current law made her feel that people like her should be “gone”.

In a summary of the decision, by Lord Justice Underhill, Lady Justice Thirlwall and Lord Justice Peter Jackson, the judges said the law did not interfere with the rights of ‘living disabled people’.

They said: “The court recognizes that many people with Down syndrome and other disabilities will be upset and offended that a diagnosis of severe disability during pregnancy is treated by law as justification for termination of pregnancy, and that they may view it as implying that their own life has less value.

“But he argues that the perception that this is what the law entails is not in itself sufficient to give rise to an interference with Article 8 rights. [to private and family life, enshrined in the European convention on human rights].”

Speaking at the Royal Courts of Justice in London after the ruling, Crowter and her mother, Liz, said they would take the case to the Supreme Court.

Crowter, who is from Coventry, said: “I won’t stop until I’m seen as an equal in society.”

Asked why she wanted to change the law, Crowter told Sky News: “It makes me feel like I shouldn’t be here. That I should be off. I know that’s not true, but that’s how I feel.

She pointed out how the law treated her newly born nephew. “I was flabbergasted that the law protected him and not me,” she said.

“I was absolutely distraught.”

Heidi Crowter has lost a Court of Appeal challenge over legislation which allows the abortion of babies with Down's syndrome up until birth. https://t.co/p6hfBnJVwU

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Crowter also said, “I am very upset not to win again, but I will keep fighting because we have already informed and changed hearts and minds and changed people’s minds about the law.

“I am very upset that babies with Down syndrome can be aborted until birth. It tells me that I am not valued and that I am much less valuable than a person without Down syndrome. I am angry that the judges say that my feelings do not matter. It makes me feel like I’m not as valuable as someone without Down syndrome.

“When we started this court case, few people knew the law, but now many, many people know the law thanks to us and your amazing support. We would like to thank everyone who gave their time and money to our trial. »

But Guardian columnist Frances Ryan has spoken out against restricting abortion access. Ryan, author of Crippled: Austerity and the Demonization of Disabled People, tweeted: “If you want to talk about the inequality of raising a disabled child, campaign for higher benefits, better child care and accessible housing. Forcing a woman to give birth against her will is not a form of human rights disabilities.

Emma Vogelmann, a disability rights activist with spinal muscular atrophy, agreed. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One, she said: ‘When we start talking about restricting access to abortion we ultimately take away a woman’s autonomy and choice to make what she wants with her own body. We are seeing some really dangerous conversations around a woman’s right to access an abortion with or without fetal abnormality.

Vogelmann added: “I have a condition that would have allowed my parents to terminate their pregnancy with me…I don’t see it as a judgment on my life and my quality of life, if someone were to terminate their pregnancy with me. pregnancy with my condition.

“There are so many bigger issues that we face rather than what a woman chooses before we are born. We face discrimination from all kinds of people on a daily basis. And I think those conversations need to be much more widespread.

“Having a child is a huge responsibility anyway, and I think with a disability there will be a lot of extra struggles that that parent will have. That really needs to be taken into consideration if a woman is able to commit to it. if she wants to be able to give a child the best possible chance in life.

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