UK: appeal against abortion of unborn babies with Down syndrome fails

A British court on Friday rejected an appeal by a woman challenging the right to an abortion, which is possible until birth, where the unborn child has Down syndrome.

Heidi Crowter, 27 and herself with Down’s syndrome, had sued the Department of Health in the hope that this part of the UK abortion law would be withdrawn as she considered it an “inequality”. In England, Wales and Scotland, pregnant women can have an abortion up to the 24th week of pregnancy.

The legislation seeks to find a balance between the rights of the unborn child and the rights of women

However, abortion is possible until birth in the case of “significant risk, if the child is born, that it will suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities that it will be seriously disabled”a definition that includes trisomy 21.

Ms Crowter lost at first instance last year and the judges said the legislation aimed to strike a balance between the rights of the unborn and women.

In July during the appeal, Mrs Crowter’s lawyer, Jason Coppel, told the court that this exemption for babies with this type of disability feeds the idea that these people “do not deserve to live and that their lives are worth less than those of able-bodied people”.

I keep fighting

“The court recognizes that many people with Down syndrome or other disabilities may be upset or offended that the diagnosis of a serious disability during pregnancy is a legal basis for terminating (the pregnancy) and may believe that this means that their own lives have less value”the judges said Friday.

“But to believe that this is what the law implies is not in itself sufficient” to justify this use, they believed. After the verdict, Ms Crowter told reporters she was considering whether to take the case to the Supreme Court. “I will continue to fight”she responded, explaining that this new sentence gave her “the impression of not having as much value as a person without Down syndrome”.

“When we started this lawsuit, not many people knew about the law, but today many, many people know about it thanks to us.“, she welcomed. A syndrome characterized by serious problems in physical and mental development, trisomy 21 is caused by the presence of a third chromosome 21.


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