The law must stop discriminating against people with Down’s syndrome — this case could change that

Oct 28, 2020 by

by Naomi Marsden, CARE:

A law that tells people with disabilities that their lives are not worth living should never have found its way onto the statute books. This case, challenging Britain’s discriminatory abortion law, could be a major step forward in disability equality.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting Heidi Crowter, a disability advocate, as she delivered a petition to Number 10. The petition called on the Government to prevent the imposition of a discriminatory abortion law on Northern Ireland, which would allow for abortion up to birth on the basis of disability. Very sadly, the law passed, putting Northern Ireland on a par with the discriminatory regime that has existed in Great Britain for decades.

Undeterred, Heidi continues in her advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities. She is now contesting Britain’s abortion law in a landmark case that will be heard by the High Court. This case is not arguing about the morality of abortion per se, it is tackling one aspect of the law.

Specifically, that is the discriminatory nature of the Abortion Act 1967. Under the current law, abortions can be carried out on various Grounds up to 24 weeks. The most common Ground is Ground C — that the pregnancy would cause detriment to the woman’s mental health.

However, Ground E of the Act allows abortion if a baby will be born ‘seriously handicapped’, and, since the law was changed in 1990, this is available up to birth.

Read here

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