Woman with Down syndrome’s landmark case against UK Govt over “discriminatory” abortion law to be heard by High Court on 6th July 2021.
Heidi Crowter, a 25-year-old woman from Coventry who has Down syndrome, together with Máire Lea-Wilson from Brentford, West London, whose 2-year-old son Aidan has Down syndrome, are challenging the UK Government over a disability clause in the current law.
Currently in England, Wales and Scotland, there is a general 24-week time limit for abortion, but if the baby has a disability, including Down syndrome, cleft lip and club foot, abortion is legal right up to birth.
The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has consistently criticised countries that terminate on the basis of disability. The U.K. is one of those countries, said Angie Emrys-Jones, campaigner.
Heidi Crowter, from Coventry, who has Down’s syndrome said:
“The law says that babies shouldn’t be aborted up to birth, but if a baby is found to have Down’s syndrome, it can be aborted up until birth. This is the current law in the UK and I think it’s not fair.
People like me are considered to be ‘seriously handicapped’, but I think using that phrase for a clause in abortion law is so out of date.
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.
So, last year, me and other members of the Down’s syndrome community set out to get rid of the clause in the law, and now our case will soon be heard in the High Court.
I hope we win. People shouldn’t be treated differently because of their disabilities, it’s downright discrimination.”
Down syndrome campaigners are asking to raise the profile of the ‘Downright Discrimination’ Court Case in their community, and in the public eye, with this fun social media campaign.
Below is some information about what they are looking to achieve. #HoldHands4Equality
The Disability Rights Commission (now the Equality and Human Rights Commission) has said that this practice is offensive to many people; it reinforces negative stereotypes of disability…[and] is incompatible with valuing disability and non-disability equally, said Angie from Cornwall Down’s Syndrome Support Group, UK.
The push of this campaign is to get outside of the Down syndrome echo chamber and really connect with the wider public and make them see this isn’t just a Down syndrome issue – it’s about equality and that equality belongs to everyone, everywhere, stated campaigner Angie.
Angie goes on to say,
we are asking people to take pictures like the one shown and share with the text below in italics on the lead up to 6/7th July.
“As a society we proclaim that everyone deserves a fair and equal chance at life. It’s time our laws reflect that. In the UK, the time limit to terminate a pregnancy is 24 weeks. Unless the baby has Down syndrome, then that limit shifts right up to birth. Heidi and Aidan are bringing the government to court to try and change the law so that we are all treated equally. It will be heard in the Royal Courts of Justice on the 6th July. Will you join us and #HoldHands4Equality? You can support us by posting a picture of your hands with the court case date – 6th July – on your Facebook profile picture AND status/Insta and help us raise awareness of this important case hearing. Then ask your friends and peers to share or post their own hands. Let’s spread this far and wide and using the ‘ripple effect’ get this image EVERYWHERE. Please help us to give the people we love the equality they deserve”.
The campaigners are aiming to flood social media with the pictures in unity and together get as many of the world’s eyes watching as possible.
“This is our opportunity to reach the general public who are unaware of the importance of this case (most people don’t even know about the 24week rule not applying to babies with Down syndrome) and to raise awareness of the inequality that exists for people with Down syndrome from the very start,” said Angie
“To make this a real success we need as many people in the community to not only post a picture of their hands with the court case date – 6th July – as their Facebook profile picture and also their status but ask their friends to post and spread the message on and on, using the ripple effect”.
Heidi and her team have already crowdfunded over £98,000 for the case.
Suggested hashtags for your use: #HoldHands4Equality #downrightdiscrimination #ImWithHeidi #ImWithAidan
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