LONDON (WNN) – A woman with Down syndrome filed a court challenge against the British government on Thursday to lose sight of a law allowing abortions until the fetus is born with the condition.
Heidi Krauter, 26, and two others took the Department of Health and Social Care to court, arguing that part of the Abortion Act is discriminatory and violates the European Convention on Human Rights.
Abortion is allowed in England, Wales and Scotland up to 24 weeks of gestation. But the law states that termination may be allowed until birth if “there is a substantial risk that the child, if born, will suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be severely disabled”, including Down syndrome.
Krauter has said that she found the law “offensive” and derogatory, and that she wanted to change the law to challenge people’s perceptions of Down syndrome.
Two judges dismissed the case on Thursday after two days of hearing, concluding that the law is not illegal and aims to strike a balance between the rights of the unborn child and women.
Krauter brought up the case with 33-year-old Maier Lee-Wilson, who has a son with Down syndrome, and an unborn child with the condition.
She said she plans to appeal the decision.
“The fight is not over,” Krauter said outside the Royal Court of Justice in central London, surrounded by supporters.
“We face discrimination every day in schools, in the workplace and in society. Thanks to the verdict, the judges have upheld discrimination even in the womb,” she said.
Paul Conrathe, an attorney for the firm representing the three claimants, called the decision disappointing and “out of step with the modern approach to disability”.
“By allowing babies with (Down) syndrome to be aborted until birth, as opposed to stunted babies, the law sends a powerful message that the lives of those with (Down) syndrome are of little value,” he said.