Abortion: Court to rule on legal offer to ban abortion of disabled babies after 24 weeks | UK News
A High Court ruling is expected later that could prevent unborn babies with disabilities, including Down syndrome, from being aborted after 24 weeks.
A 26-year-old with Down’s syndrome is among those who have filed a lawsuit to overturn the current abortion law that allows parents to terminate a pregnancy in the event of a serious fetal abnormality at any time until birth.
Abortions can take place during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy in England, Scotland and Wales.
They must be approved by two doctors, who agree that having the baby would pose a greater risk to a woman’s physical or mental health than an abortion.
After 24 weeks, a woman can have an abortion if she is at risk of serious physical and mental injury, or if the fetus has a disability, including Down syndrome.
Heidi Carter, who got married last year, believes that the current law on abortion is “downright discriminatory”.
“I don’t like having to justify my existence, it makes me feel like I’m not as valuable as everyone else. It makes me feel like I shouldn’t be here.” , she said.
The joint legal action is also brought by Mayor Lea-Wilson, mother of a baby with Down’s syndrome.
Ms Lea-Wilson has said she “cannot imagine life” without her son and wants unborn children with Down’s syndrome to have “equal rights”.
“I have two sons and I love and appreciate them the same and I really think the law should too,” she said.
“The case was very difficult work, it was quite emotional and at times quite exhausting, but I believe so strongly that Aidan deserves to be treated and seen the same and I would hate him to grow up and realize of this law and feel hurt by it, so I’m going to keep fighting for him. “
However, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) says women should have the right to “make tough decisions in heartbreaking situations”.
BPAS chief executive Clare Murphy said a change in the law “would force women to continue pregnancies with multiple abnormalities and give birth where the chances of survival are uncertain or unknown.”
She says the distinction between a fatal or non-fatal fetal abnormality is “not a clear white line” and women should be able to make difficult decisions against “the backdrop of significant medical complexities.”
Ms Murphy says the current law gives women time to understand the implications of a diagnosis and not feel rushed into a decision.
“Conditions diagnosed later in pregnancy can be incredibly complex and very difficult for women and their partners,” she said.
“Women are in the best position in these circumstances to determine what is right for them in the context of their own lives.”
She believes that a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy âshould be seen as distinctâ from a society that promotes equal rights for people with disabilities.
Judgment is expected at 10:30 am.