The 1967 Abortion Act allows dismissal of children with disabilities up to their date of birth.
“People shouldn’t be treated differently because of their disability.” That feeling, recently voiced by a young woman with Down syndrome, is now widely accepted. But in July the question will be taken up by the High Court in London.
The court hears a lawsuit against the UK government over a law allowing abortion until birth for Down syndrome.
Section 1 (1) (d) of the 1967 Abortion Act permits termination of a pregnancy at any time if “there is a significant risk that the child will suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities at birth that are severely disabled. According to the Catholic News Agency, 3,183 disability abortions were recorded in 2019 in England and Wales, of which 656 were followed by a prenatal diagnosis of Down’s syndrome.
With the advent of prenatal screening techniques and their increasing use, some people fear that the provisions of the law will be increasingly used. That is why Heidi Crowter, a woman with Down syndrome, and Máire Lea-Wilson, a mother whose 23-month-old son suffers from the disease, have filed a petition.
Campaign group Don’t Screen Us Out said Crowter and her team raised more than $ 111,000 for the case through a crowdfunding website.
“The law says babies should not be aborted until birth, but if a baby is diagnosed with Down syndrome, it can be aborted until birth. This is the current law in the UK and I think it is not fair, “said Crowter, 25.” People like me are considered to be ‘seriously disabled’ but I think it is so inappropriate to use that phrase for a clause in the UK Abortion Law to Use Date. “
She also said the litigation is important to her and her husband James Carter, who also has Down syndrome, because they “want to show the world that we have a good quality of life.”
Crowter noted that the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recently stated that Britain should amend its law “to ensure that people like me are not singled out for our disabilities”.
In the absence of such action by the government, members of the Down syndrome community “set out to get rid of the legal clause,” Crowter said. “I hope we win. People shouldn’t be treated differently because of their disabilities. It’s downright discrimination.”
Lea-Wilson, 32, said she was implicated in the lawsuit because the law does not value her two sons, one of whom has Down syndrome, equally. Since joining the case, it has become increasingly clear to her that Section 1 (1) (d) of the Abortion Act, which distinguishes the time limit for abortion, “sets the tone for discrimination” against people with Down.
Lea-Wilson said she was offered the opportunity to abort her son three times after Aidan’s genetic disorder was diagnosed. She refused, and he was born just two weeks after his diagnosis.
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