Down’s syndrome activists prepare to fight High Court to change abortion law

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High Court justices are called upon to review the country’s abortion laws that allow for the late termination of pregnancies that could result in a child with Down syndrome.

Activists Heidi Crowter, who has Down’s syndrome, and Máire Lea-Wilson, whose son has the disease, have launched a legal offer to change the law.

Currently, the law allows interruptions after 24 weeks if a “serious fetal abnormality” is detected.

The only other circumstances in which abortions are legal after the 24 week point are if there is a risk of death to the mother.

Heidi, from Coventry, and Máire, from Brentford, launched their campaign last year and raised more than £ 81,000 in support of the court case which they say will be heard on July 6-7 this year. year.

Responding to the news on their campaign website, Heidi said, “We hope this day marks a revolution in this world and the law.

Heidi Crowter (pictured with husband James) and Máire Lea-Wilson prepare for a legal fight to change laws that allow late abortion of fetuses with non-fatal disabilities

Activist Máire Lea-Wilson (pictured) claims she was put

Activist Máire Lea-Wilson (pictured) claims she was put “under intense pressure” to have an abortion when she found out her son Aidan had Down’s syndrome during his 34-week exam.

“I am so excited to have a trial date because I feel like there is finally a chance to achieve full Down syndrome equality in this country and our voices to be heard.

“Thank you very much for your support so far, we really appreciate it.”

Heidi, who married her husband James last year in one of the first post-lockdown marriages, previously described the current law as “unfair” and said it made her sad and upset.

She said: ‘At the moment in the UK babies can be aborted until birth if they are considered’ severely disabled ‘.

“They include me in this definition of being severely disabled – just because I have an extra chromosome!” Can you believe this?

“What this tells me is that my life just isn’t as precious as other people, and I don’t think that’s fair. I think it’s downright discrimination.

Heidi Crowter, 25, and James Carter, 26, pictured together on their wedding day in July 2020

Heidi Crowter, 25, and James Carter, 26, pictured together on their wedding day in July 2020

Down syndrome is a genetic disease resulting from abnormal cell division of the parent’s sperm or egg, which causes the child to have too many copies of chromosome 21.

This extra genetic material triggers heart and gastrointestinal disorders that often require surgery and intellectual disability.

It has more serious effects in some than others, both physically and mentally. In 2018, 618 abortions were performed in England and Wales because the fetus had Down.

Campaigners have previously written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, stating that all non-fatal disabilities should be subject to the same 24-week limit.

Máire, accountant, equality rights activist and mother said: “Our case is not about the rights and wrongs of abortion.

“This is the specific case of inequality in the law, according to which for a child without a disability the legal limit for abortion is 24 weeks, but you can have an abortion to term with a disabled child. .

Heidi Crowter, 24 (left) pictured with her younger sister Susie, 22 (right) launched the legal offer to change the country's abortion law last year and has so far raised 81 £ 000 in support

Heidi Crowter, 24 (left) pictured with her younger sister Susie, 22 (right) launched the legal offer to change the country’s abortion law last year and has so far raised 81 £ 000 in support

‘I have two sons, and I love them and appreciate them equally; however, the law does not value them in the same way. It seems so wrong to me, so we want to try to change that.

“I was 34 weeks pregnant when we found out that Aidan was likely to have Down syndrome.

“The first thing they wanted to discuss in the hospital was whether we would like to terminate the pregnancy.

“It was like assuming we were going to abort our baby. At such an advanced stage of pregnancy, and at a time when I was scared and vulnerable, this was a very difficult question to ask. I find it hard to think back to that time.

“I find it hard to believe that Aidan’s life is not considered as precious as that of his older brother. It worries me whether he will be seen the same or treated the same.

“I’m also really worried that when he’s older, if this law is still in effect, how will it make him feel: that it’s not as valuable?” That it doesn’t have the same value?

The case is expected to be heard in July this year.


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