Heidi Crowter, a woman with Down syndrome living in the United Kingdom, has filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over a law that allows abortion all the way up until birth for conditions like Down syndrome.
Crowter has established herself as an activist, campaigning against the UK’s law allowing eugenic abortions if the preborn child receives any diagnosis of disability, including Down syndrome. While abortion is permitted up to 24 weeks in the country for any reason, children with a prenatal diagnosis can be aborted up until birth. In September 2021, two judges decided to uphold that law. Crowter and her campaign appealed that decision but lost their appeal in November 2022. She’s now hoping the ECHR will intervene.
Crowter told BBC News she is taking her fight to the ECHR “because it is downright discrimination that people with disabilities are treated differently.”
“In 2023, we live in a society where disabled people are valued equally after birth but not in the womb,” she said.
She also recently wrote an op-ed in the Express detailing her desire to fight for the preborn.
“Back in 2019 I found out about the abortion law which states that a baby with Down’s syndrome can be aborted up to birth but for a baby without Down’s syndrome, the time limit is 24 weeks! I could not stop crying when I first found out,” she wrote. “This law makes me feel that I am better off dead and that I am not as valued as people without Down’s syndrome. It boggles my mind that the law protects them and not me.”
According to a press release from the organization Don’t Screen Us Out, the ECHR, which is located in Strasbourg, France, has to first decide if it will hear Crowter’s case. The court could then decide that the UK law is in violation of human rights, a ruling, the group said, “which could not only have implications for the United Kingdom but also set a legal precedent for all forty-six countries that are members of the Council of Europe.”
“The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recently said that the United Kingdom should change its abortion law to make sure that people like me aren’t singled out because of our disabilities but the Government hasn’t changed the law,” Crowter noted in the press release.
“I have a great life. I want every baby with Down’s syndrome to have the same chance to live and enjoy their life. I hope we win. People shouldn’t be treated differently because of their disabilities, it’s downright discrimination.”
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