End Disability discrimination
Update: on the 8th March 2022, International Women's Day, the High Court granted Heidi leave to appeal against the ruling which said that the law does not unfairly discriminate against people with Down Syndrome. Heidi continues to battle on!
UK law tells disabled people that their lives are of lesser value and not worth living by refusing to afford them the same protection given to everyone else while they are in the womb.
Current law forbids abortion after the stage of 24 weeks unless the child has been diagnosed with a disability. Allowing babies to be aborted because of their disability is a direct contravention of the Equality Act, which holds that disability is a protected characteristic. Furthermore, the law does not allow children to be aborted on the grounds of their sex or their parents’ religion, to name two other protected characteristics, thank goodness, so why should disability be any different?
Every year in Britain, over 3,000 babies are aborted on the grounds of disability, including for easily treatable conditions such as cleft palate and club foot, and around 650 babies are aborted because they are deemed to have a much higher chance of having Down Syndrome. These figures are a conservative estimate, reporting errors mean that the actual numbers are likely to be much higher.
Parents whose children are diagnosed with disabilities are given limited and biased information, and many report being pressured into an abortion multiple times throughout the course of the pregnancy by health professionals. They are led to believe that they will struggle to cope and that their child faces a bleak and depressing future.
Selective abortion on the grounds of disability is perpetuating the cycle of discriminatory abuse against disabled individuals. A Parliamentary Inquiry investigating the abuse faced by disabled people online discovered that much of the abuse centred around telling people that they should not have been born, ought to have been aborted or don’t deserve to live.
The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has criticised the UK’s abortion law for discriminating against those with disabilities and recommended that the UK change the law. The UK’s disability rights commission has similarly described the Abortion Act as ‘offensive to many people, reinforces negative stereotypes of disability and incompatible with valuing disability and non-disability equally’.
On July 6 and 7, Heidi Crowter, who has Down Syndrome and Máire Lea-Wilson, the mother of a toddler with Downs Syndrome, is bringing a High Court action to challenge this injustice.
Sign the petition in support of Heid and Márie and telling Justin Tomlinson, the Minister for Disability, to urgently table an amendment to the law, ending this gross injustice. Tell the government to end this downright discrimination.
CARE: the law must stop discriminating against people with Down Syndrome - this case could change that!
BBC News: Down’s Syndrome campaigner Heidi Crowter on marriage and loving life
Daily Telegraph: Clift lip abortions 10 times as common as reported
Heidi Crowter addresses the Northern Ireland Parliament