Woman with Down syndrome loses abortion appeal
A woman with Down’s syndrome has lost an appeal court challenge to legislation that allows abortions of babies with the condition until birth.
Eidi Crowter, 27, from Coventry, took legal action against the Department of Health and Social Care in the hope of removing a section of the Abortion Act which she believes is an “example of inequality”.
Judges ruled last September that the legislation was not unconstitutional and was intended to strike a balance between the rights of unborn children and women.
The case was reconsidered by the Court of Appeal in July.
In England, Wales and Scotland there is a 24-week period for obtaining an abortion.
But the law allows termination up to birth if “there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be severely disabled at birth,” including Down syndrome. Is.
Jason Koppel KC, representing Mrs Crowther and Mayer Leah Wilson, mother of a young boy, Aidan, who has Down’s syndrome, who brought the appeal with Ms Crowther, told the court in July: “This has had an impact on Stereotyping life as disabled, or severely disabled, as someone who is unable to live and certainly has less value than life as an able-bodied person, thus disabled people like Ms Crowther. affects feelings of self-esteem and self-worth.”
He said the language used in the act was “outdated” and was considered by some to be offensive and unacceptable.
But, in a ruling on Friday, three senior judges rejected the appeal.
Summarizing the judgment by Lord Justice Underhill, Lady Justice Thirlwall and Lord Justice Peter Jackson, the judges said the Act did not interfere with the rights of “living disabled”.
He said: “The Court recognizes that many people with Down syndrome and other disabilities will be disturbed and offended by the fact that a diagnosis of a serious disability during pregnancy is considered grounds for dismissal by law, and it accepts that This means that their own lives are worth less.
“But it held that the presumption that the law meant what it meant was not sufficient to give rise to an interference with Article 8 rights (to private and family life, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights).”
Down syndrome, the result of being born with an extra chromosome, results in varying degrees of disability – some people are able to be independent and hold jobs, while others require more regular care. Is.
In their judgment last year, Lord Justice Singh and Mrs Justice Lyon concluded that legislation was a matter for Parliament, which could take account of differing views rather than the courts.
Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London after the verdict, Ms Crowther said she could now take her case to the Supreme Court.
I am very upset not to win again, but I will continue to fight because we have already informed and changed hearts and minds and changed people’s opinions about the law.Heidi Crowther
She told reporters: “I’m very upset not to win again, but I’ll keep fighting because we’ve already informed and changed hearts and minds and changed people’s opinions about the law. Is.
“I am very concerned that babies with Down syndrome can be aborted before birth.
“It tells me that I’m worthless and worth less than someone without Down syndrome.
“I’m angry that judges say my feelings don’t matter. It makes me feel like I’m not as valuable as a person without Down syndrome.
“When we first started this court case, many people did not know about the law, but now many people know about the law thanks to our and your wonderful support.
“We want to thank everyone who has donated their time and money to our court case.”