UK Catholic bishop speaks out after woman with Down syndrome loses abortion law appeal

 

The Court of Appeal is based at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. / Anthony M. from Rome, Italy – Flickr via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0).

CNA Newsroom, Nov 29, 2022 / 04:38 am (CNA).

The Catholic Church in England and Wales has spoken out against the UK’s abortion law, branding it “illogical and unjust,” after a woman with Down Syndrome lost a legal challenge to the law relating to abortion and disability.

In a ruling on November 25, the Court of Appeal ruled that the UK abortion law did not discriminate against disabled people, even though it permits abortion up to birth if medics suspect the baby is disabled.

Heidi Crowter, a 27-year-old woman with Down Syndrome, launched her legal challenge in the High Court in July 2021, arguing that the law does not respect her life.

Following her defeat in the High Court in September 2021, the case was then re-examined by the Court of Appeal this month, but Lord Justice Underhill said in his judgment that the disability clause in the Abortion Act 1967 does not play “any significant role in causing discriminatory attitudes against disabled people generally, or those with Down’s in particular.”

In a statement on November 29, Bishop John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and Lead Bishop for Life Issues, told CNA that the verdict was upsetting.

Bishop John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster. . Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
Bishop John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster. Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

He said: “I am deeply saddened that Heidi Crowther’s campaign to recognize the child with a disability in the womb as an equal has been rejected by the Court of Appeal.

“The law which protects her after birth did not protect her in the womb- indeed, a disabled person, such as Heidi, can be aborted up to the moment of birth based on their disability alone. This is illogical and unjust. Whilst the judgment claims that section 1(1)(d) of the Abortion Act 1967 does not have ‘any significant role in causing discriminatory attitudes against disabled people generally, or those with Down’s in particular, the year-on-year increase in disability- selective abortions tells a very different story.”

“I echo the words of Pope Francis, who strongly discouraged the use of prenatal diagnosis for selective purposes as ‘it is an expression of an inhuman eugenic mentality, which deprives families of the possibility of welcoming, embracing and loving their weakest children.’ We must continue to advocate for greater support for families caring for a child with disability.”

The bishop concluded: ”I offer my prayerful support as Heidi considers seeking permission for the case to be heard at the UK Supreme Court.”

Speaking outside the Court of Appeal on November 25, Crowter said: “I will keep on fighting because we have already informed and changed hearts and minds and changed people’s opinions about the law.”

She added: “The law was made in 1967, when we were not even allowed to go to school because of our extra chromosome. So, I think it’s time that the judges move with the times and actually meet with people with Down’s syndrome.”

Heidi Crowter and her legal team are now considering taking her case to the UK Supreme Court.

Following the ruling, pro-life advocates and parliamentarians expressed their solidarity with Crowter and reiterated their opposition to the UK’s law.

Lord Alton of Liverpool, crossbench peer, Catholic, and human rights advocate, shared an article on Twitter about the case along with the Tweet: “Heidi Crowter with Down’s Syndrome loses bid to end barbaric law and allows abortion up to birth on Downs babies-which I opposed when enacted. Judges say it’s up to Parliament not the Courts. Heidi’s right-it’s a terrible, discriminatory law which should be repealed.”

Meanwhile, Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said in a statement on November 25: “This is a great disappointment for people with Down’s syndrome and disabilities in general. The law clearly discriminates against people with Down’s syndrome and does not provide the same protections that other unborn babies have. Hopefully, Heidi and her team will have more success if they decide to take this case to the Supreme Court.”

The law in England and Wales allows abortion up to 24 weeks, but if the baby has a disability, including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip, or a club foot, abortion is then permissible up to birth.

A November 24 statement from the campaign group Right to Life said: “There were 3,370 disability-selective abortions in 2021. The number of late-term abortions at 24 weeks gestation or over where the baby has a disability increased by 20% from 229 to 274.

“The statistics showed there were 859 abortions where a baby had Down’s syndrome in 2021, an increase of 24% from 2020. The statistics also show a 71% increase in late-term abortions at 24 weeks gestation or over where the baby had Down’s syndrome, increasing from 14 in 2020 to 24 in 2021.”


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3 Comments

  1. He said “I am deeply saddened that Heidi Crowther’s campaign to recognize the child with a disability in the womb as an equal has been rejected by the court of appeal ………”

    There is a higher court.

  2. French Regime Eugenics in the 1930s preceded the Masonic Tulle Society’s Hitler and their Nazi “Social Democratic Party” under a Liberating Flag.

    Western Civilisation has today witnessed the severity of its perverted masonic “Politically Correct” Ethics which oppose the Judeo-Christian foundations of Occident, undermining the already fragilized foundations of the Social Contract.

    “Presumed Legitimacy” without legitimately annointed Catholic Monarchs has a breaking point. Immoral eugenism along with Soros’ Funded rainbow mutilation ideologies imposing education plans and clinical programmes via brutal legislation are a civilisational disaster movie, every parent’s nightmare. Welcome to Neo-Nazi Rainbow-land.

    Imposed by Social Engineers working for the Civitas Diaboli of the Global Elite, the Mind-Kontrol “Politically-Correct-Ethics-Programme” is doomed to fail. It is not possible to convince parents against God’s Natural Law that their children’s best interests are served via gender mutilation experiments, forced eugenics, an age-limit on life (oh yes, it is next…)

    Carholics all know the rejection of God’s Natural Law is the rejection of Man’s dignity. The same Darwinian-derived Errors made in the 1930s are being repeated here and now in the 2020s; the same demons released. The same Semi-Secret Socities fooling the compromised elect with their damnable ideologies and philosophies.

    Pope Benedict XVI warned Totalitarianism had re-entered europe via the rear door…

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