In early 2020, 24-year-old Heidi Crowter, from Coventry, who has Down's Syndrome, teamed up with Cheryl Bilsborrow of Preston, mother of two-year-old Hector, who also has Down's syndrome, and launched historic action against the British government against the current abortion law which allows the crime of abortion to be carried out on a person with Down's Syndrome until birth.
Heidi, the complainant, said the current law made her feel like people like her should be “eliminated.” She did not rule out taking this case all the way to the Supreme Court, saying she will continue to fight for her cause, and that she has already “informed and changed people's hearts and minds, and changed their views on the law.”
Heidi then delivered a moving message to reporters: “Currently in the United Kingdom, babies can be aborted up to the moment of birth if they are considered severely disabled. I am included...simply because I have an extra chromosome.”
“What I'm told is that my life doesn't have the same value as other people's and I don't think that’s right. I think that's frankly discrimination.”
On July 6, 2021, surrounded by a crowd, the young woman and Máire Lea-Wilson managed to present their case to the court. Máire Lea-Wilson was pressured to have an abortion when an ultrasound at 34 weeks revealed her child had Down's Syndrome.
In September of the same year, the High Court in London denied that it was discriminatory to abort children because they had Down’s Syndrome. Heidi did not give up and had her appeal against the British law on eugenic abortion accepted.
The British Court of Appeal confirmed, on Friday November 25, 2022, the legislation authorizing abortion for people with trisomy 21 until the moment of birth. Three senior judges dismissed the appeal.
In a summary of the decision, delivered by Lord Justice Underhill, Lady Justice Thirlwall, and Lord Justice Peter Jackson, the judges said the law did not interfere with the rights of the “living disabled.”
They also stated: “The Court recognizes that many people with Down's Syndrome and other disabilities will be upset and offended by the fact that a diagnosis of severe disability during pregnancy is treated in law as justification for the termination of pregnancy, and that they may consider this to imply that their own life has less value,” the judges said.
The current law in England, Wales, and Scotland allows abortion as long as it is performed within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. In addition, the law also authorizes abortion up to the moment of birth in cases of “significant risk,” “when the unborn baby suffers from a physical or mental abnormality or presents a serious handicap.”
Heidi Crowter does not rule out taking her case to the Supreme Court, as she has assured that she will continue to fight for this cause. She has already succeeded in “informing and changing hearts and minds and changing people's opinions on the law,” she told Sky News reporters.