People with Down’s syndrome celebrated by MPs amid legal challenge against UK’s discriminatory abortion laws

A cross-party group of MPs, from across the three biggest political parties, have come together to celebrate the contribution people with Down’s syndrome bring to communities, families, workplaces and society at large.

An Early Day Motion commemorating World Down’s syndrome Awareness Month, launched by pro-life MP Dr Lisa Cameron, has now received a number of signatories, with more expected before the month ends.

It comes ahead of a short speech she’ll give about Down’s syndrome Awareness Month in the House of Commons on Thursday and amid a legal challenge against the UK’s discriminatory abortion law, which allows Down’s syndrome termination right up to birth.

Heidi’s landmark case

Earlier this year, disability rights campaigner Heidi Crowter launched a landmark case against the UK Government over current abortion legislation that singles out babies with disabilities for on-demand abortions – allowing abortion right through to birth for conditions including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

Heidi’s legal challenge has generated widespread support from those with first-hand experience of Down’s syndrome, pro-life campaigners, disability advocates and more.

Over 5,000,000 people have watched Heidi tell Channel 5 the current law is “deeply offensive” and many more have seen her tell the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that the current law makes her feel “unloved and unwanted”.

#ImWithHeidi

Heidi’s campaign has been shared tens of thousands of times on social media, with people adding #ImWithHeidi to their posts.

She has now been joined in her legal fight against discriminatory disability-selective abortion by Máire Lea-Wilson, whose one-year-old son, Aidan, has Down’s syndrome.

Máire said she was encouraged in hospital to abort Aidan when a scan at 34-weeks revealed he had the condition.

Recalling her experience, she told Sky News: “I felt like the assumption was that we would abort our baby.”

The mother of two added: “I have two sons and I love and value them equally and I think it seems really wrong that the law doesn’t value them equally.”

Protesting against abortion should not be a crime

The British establishment is deeply uncomfortable with speech it cannot control. In theory, we have a right to free speech under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, but even this is highly circumscribed and is full of exemptions. This aversion to free speech was recently confirmed by the Law Commission’s proposals to expand Britain’s hate-speech laws, restricting what we are allowed to say to and about each other.

Nevertheless, in the past couple of weeks, there has been some seemingly good news. First was the defeat of the Demonstrations (Abortion Clinics) Bill. This was a distinctly worrying 10 Minute Rule Bill spawned by Labour MP Rupa Huq in collaboration with Tory grandees Bernard Jenkin and Andrew Mitchell. The bill would have created ‘buffer zones’ around abortion clinics, banning any kind of demonstration or communication within 150 metres of a clinic or entrance to a building containing a clinic. It would also threaten infringers with six months inside (two years on a second offence). Whatever your view on abortion, a bill that threatens with imprisonment a person who, in a given area, merely ‘expresses opinion’ (these are the exact words of Clause 2(2)(e)) has no place in any liberal democracy.

Click here to read the full article