Woman with Down’s Syndrome loses legal challenge against abortion law

A woman with Down’s syndrome has failed in her attempt to revise legislation that allows abortion of babies with the disease at any stage of pregnancy.

Heidi Crowter, of Coventry, lost her High Court challenge against the government on Thursday.

Along with two other claimants, she had hoped to force the Department of Health and Social Affairs to do away with part of the abortion law, which she deemed discriminatory.

Although in Great Britain terminations are limited to the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, exceptions are made if there is “a substantial risk” that the child will be “severely disabled”.

Lawyers representing Ms Crowter and her co-claimants have argued that this provision is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

In their ruling, two senior judges, Lord Justice Singh and Ms Justice Lieven, dismissed the case, saying: “The issues that gave rise to this claim are very sensitive and at times controversial.

“They generate strong feelings, on all sides of the debate, including sincere differences of views on ethical and religious issues.

“This court cannot enter into these controversies; he should only decide the case in accordance with the law.

During the two-day hearing in July, Ms Crowter told reporters the law was “obsolete”.

“I hope we win. People shouldn’t be treated any differently because of their disability; it’s downright discrimination,” she said.

His comments came after the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities urged the UK government to update its abortion laws.

Mayor Lea-Wilson, who has a son with Down’s syndrome and a child with the disease known only as A, also brought the case.

Speaking in July, Ms Lea-Wilson said, “I have two sons that I love and appreciate, but the law doesn’t value them the same.

“This is wrong and so we want to try to change that.”

Ms Crowter and Ms Lea-Wilson both plan to deliver speeches to the Royal Courts of Justice later Thursday.

Additional reports by agencies

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