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Woman with Down’s syndrome to challenge abortion law

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A woman with Down’s syndrome says she is “fighting for people with disabilities to have equal rights to life” as she leads a High Court case against the government over abortion laws.

Heidi Crowter, 26, launched her legal action this week, alongside a mother of two from London whose son also has Down’s syndrome, challenging a law which allows abortions up to birth for babies with the condition.

Speaking to actor and guest Channel 4 News presenter Ruben Reuter, who has Down’s syndrome, Ms Crowter said: “I’m basically fighting for people with disabilities to have equal rights to life…

“I think people are looking for the perfect baby but you can never get a perfect baby.”

‘Unlawfully discriminatory’​


In law, there is a general 24-week time limit to have an abortion in England, Wales and Scotland.

However, the 1967 Abortion Act permits terminations up until birth if there is “a substantial risk” that if the child were born it would have “serious physical or mental” disabilities.

This criteria includes Down’s syndrome.

In 2018, more than 3200 abortions occurred because the child was likely to be seriously disabled and over 289 of these took place after 24 weeks, according to government figures.

At a two-day High Court hearing this week, lawyers representing Ms Crowter and her co-claimant Maire Lea-Wilson will argue that the law as it stands is unlawfully discriminatory.

‘It really upsets me’​


Clare Farrington lives in Crouch End, north London, with her son Theo who has Down’s syndrome.

Speaking of the moment after giving birth when she discovered Theo had the condition, she said: “I had lots of thoughts that went through my mind. Would we ever be happy again? What kind of life would he have? How would I have a life with a disabled child?

“It was something that I didn’t want. I just wanted the son I thought I was going to have.”

Ms Farrington added: “If I found out Theo had Downs syndrome before he was born then yeah, I would have terminated my baby. I obviously am not that person now but that’s what I’d have done…

“It really upsets me that I might have been one of those people that made the decision based on fear…

“Theo has shone a light on our family and, at the beginning, I thought he’d turned the light off.”

Reporter: Ruben Reuter
 
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