By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – A woman with Down syndrome was told by a British court that a fetus with her condition can be aborted until birth.
Heidi Crowter, 26, lost a High Court case against the British government challenging legislation that allows for the abortion of the unborn with Down syndrome till even nine months.
Crowter and two others took the Department of Health and Social Care to court, arguing that part of the Abortion Act is discriminatory and violates the European Convention on Human Rights.
Abortions in England, Wales, and Scotland are allowed up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. But the law says terminations can be allowed up until birth if there’s “a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.”
Crowter, who lives independently and recently got married, said she found the legislation “offensive” and disrespectful. She stressed she wanted to change the law to challenge people’s perception of Down syndrome.
But in a ruling that pro-life critics could compare to the Nazi-era, the court effectively told Crowter to understand that not everyone wants people to like her with Down Syndrome.
Judges Rabinder Singh and Nathalie Lieven said: “The evidence is also clear that, although scientific developments have improved and earlier identification may be feasible, there are still conditions which will only be identified late in a pregnancy, after 24 weeks.”
They claimed the case gave rise to strong feelings and differences over ethical and religious views.
But they argued that the court must not enter into such controversies and rule only in accordance with the law.
“The evidence before the court powerfully shows that there will be some families who positively wish to have a child, even knowing that it will be born with severe disabilities,” the judges said.
“But the evidence is also clear that not every family will react in that way,” they said, and many families may not be able to provide a disabled child with a supportive environment.
The senior judges dismissed the case after a two-day hearing, concluding that the legislation isn’t unlawful and aims to strike a balance between the rights of the unborn child and that of women.
Crowter brought the case with Maire Lea-Wilson, 33, who has a son with Down syndrome and an unidentified child with the condition.
She said she plans to appeal the ruling. “The fight is not over,” Crowter added outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, surrounded by supporters.
“We face discrimination every day in schools, in the workplace, and in society. Thanks to the verdict, the judges have upheld discrimination in the womb, too,” she said.
Paul Conrathe, a lawyer from the firm representing the three claimants, called the judgment disappointing and “out of step with modern attitudes to disability.”
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