Woman with Down’s Syndrome loses challenge to UK abortion law

Two top British judges on Thursday dismissed a court challenge by a woman with Down’s syndrome over a national abortion law that allows individuals to abort a fetus until birth, citing “physical or mental abnormalities.

Judges Rabinder Singh and Nathalie Lieven ruled that even if “there will be families who will positively wish to have a child, even knowing that he will be born with a severe disability”, the court must recognize that “not all families will react. in this way, ” according to the Associated Press.

“The evidence is also clear that although scientific developments have improved and earlier identification may be possible, there are still conditions that will only be identified at the end of a pregnancy, after 24 weeks.” , they added.

Heidi Crowter, 26, with Down’s syndrome, had joined others in a lawsuit against the UK Department for Health and Social Affairs, arguing that the abortion law implemented in England, Wales and in Scotland is a form of disability discrimination that violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

The AP reported that Crowter said she was motivated to launch the legal challenge to help change the public perspective on Down syndrome.

Although the law prohibits most abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy, abortions may be allowed up to the time of birth if it is determined that there is “a significant risk that if the child were born, he would suffer from death. physical or mental abnormalities such as being severely disabled.

The judges ruled in favor of the law after a two-day hearing, noting that while there may be divergent ethical and religious views on the law, the court should consider the matter only of a legal point of view.

Crowter told other opponents of the law gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London on Thursday that she planned to challenge the ruling.

“The fight is not over,” she said. “We face discrimination every day in schools, in the workplace and in society. ”

“With the verdict, the judges also upheld discrimination in the womb,” Crowter added, according to the AP.

UK decision comes as Down syndrome has also become a component of legal battles over abortion laws in the United States

Earlier this month, a A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit blocked a Tennessee measure that would have banned abortions after a heartbeat is detected and prevented people from citing Down syndrome or another medical diagnosis as the reason for performing an abortion.

This week, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeal in St. Louis heard the pleadings regarding a similar Missouri law that would ban abortions if a diagnosis of Down syndrome was the only reason given for the procedure.

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