A British woman with Down syndrome urged lawmakers to recognize the precious value of every person with disabilities, born and unborn.
In a letter this week, Heidi Crowter, 24, pleaded with Northern Ireland politicians to reject an abortion law that allows unborn babies with disabilities to be aborted throughout all nine months of pregnancy, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
“I think that the law should say that people with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, or another non-fatal disability, are just as precious as people who don’t have such a disability …” Crowter said. “That is why I am now challenging the equivalent law in Great Britain.”
Earlier this year, she filed a lawsuit challenging a British law that allows unborn babies with disabilities to be aborted at any stage of pregnancy.
British lawmakers are trying to push the same law on Northern Ireland. Last year, Parliament voted to force Northern Ireland to legalize abortions while the Stormont, the Northern Ireland legislative body, was not functioning.
Now, Stormont is running again; and, on Tuesday, MLAs are scheduled to debate regulations for the new abortion law, according to the News Letter.
Crowter asked the lawmakers to reject the “discriminatory abortion legislation from Westminster” in her open letter this week.
“As a person who has Down’s syndrome, I find this proposal for Northern Ireland deeply hurtful and offensive,” she wrote. “It tells me that I am not equal to other people, not worthy of the same level of legal protection as someone who does not have Down’s syndrome or a similar non-fatal disability.”
She encouraged them to support a new DUP motion that “rejects the imposition of abortion legislation which extends to all non-fatal disabilities, including Down’s syndrome,” the News Letter reports.
“Please vote for this motion so the Northern Ireland Assembly can tell the world that you will not accept a law being passed that seeks to prevent people like me being born, that tells us that we are not as valuable as people without Down’s Syndrome or other non-fatal disabilities,” she wrote.
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“Please vote to create an environment that makes it easier, and not harder, for people to recognise and see the beauty behind the extra chromosome,” Crowter continued.
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.”
She and Cheryl Bilsborrow, whose 2-year-old son has Down syndrome, are leading the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign to change the law.
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.