A young woman with Down syndrome recently urged Northern Ireland lawmakers to protect unborn babies with disabilities from discrimination.
In a letter to its political leaders, British pro-life and disability rights advocate Heidi Crowter asked lawmakers to reject laws allowing late-term abortions on unborn babies who have Down syndrome or other disabilities, Q Radio reports.
“I am asking all MLA’s (Members of the Legislative Assembly) to reject Westminster’s regulations – please don’t vote for more discrimination against people like me,” Crowter said. “That’s both hurtful and offensive. My life has as much value as anyone else’s.”
She slammed British political leaders for forcing Northern Ireland to legalize abortions in 2019 while the Stormont, the Northern Ireland legislative body, was not functioning. The law allows abortions for basically any reason up to 24 weeks and up to birth in cases of severe fetal anomalies.
Under that exception, people like Crowter who have Down syndrome could be aborted up to birth.
“Boris Johnson’s Government did not have to introduce abortion for babies with Down’s syndrome up to birth to Northern Ireland. They chose to do this,” Crowter said, according to News Letter.
She urged Stormont to reject any abortion laws that target unborn babies with disabilities.
“Do not make the mistake which was made in Great Britain in allowing discrimination against people like me just because we happen to have Down’s syndrome,” Crowter continued. “Please let Northern Ireland continue to be a country where disabled people are valued.
“Please do not let a law come into practice which will end lives on the basis of disability and stop people like me coming into the world,” she said.
Crowter has been advocating for a change in her home country, too. She is challenging the British Abortion Act of 1967, which allows abortions up to birth for unborn babies with disabilities.
“At the moment in the UK, babies can be aborted right up to birth if they are considered to be ‘seriously handicapped,’” she said earlier this year. “They include me in that definition of being seriously handicapped — just because I have an extra chromosome.”
Crowter said the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recently recommended that the United Kingdom change its abortion laws to protect individuals like her from discrimination.
“Sadly, the Government decided to ignore their recommendations and didn’t change the law,” she said. “So now, I am going to take the Government to court with other members of the Down syndrome community to make sure that people aren’t treated differently because of their disabilities.”
She and Cheryl Bilsborrow, whose 2-year-old son has Down syndrome, are leading the campaign to change the law. They are part of the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign, which has thousands of supporters.
Down syndrome discrimination is a problem across the world. Several years ago, a CBS News report shocked the nation with its exposure of the discriminatory trend. According to the report, nearly 100 percent of unborn babies who test positive for Down syndrome are aborted in Iceland. The rate in France was 77 percent in 2015, 90 percent in the UK and 67 percent in the United States.
A number of American states have passed laws to ban discrimination against unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities, but many of the laws are blocked by legal challenges from the abortion industry.