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Disability campaigner addresses NI Assembly in support of stopping abortion up to birth for Down’s syndrome

Disability rights campaigner, Heidi Crowter, has told the Health Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly that the abortion legislation in the region “tells me and other people with Down’s syndrome that we are worth less than those without disabilities”.

On the 11th March, Crowter, who herself has Down’s syndrome, appeared before the Health Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly to voice her support for the Severe Fetal Impairment (Abortion) Bill, which will remove the current grounds in the Northern Ireland abortion regulations that were imposed on Northern Ireland, which allow abortion for ‘severe fetal impairment’. 

Under these grounds in the regulations, babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot can currently be singled out for abortion in Northern Ireland because of their disability and can be aborted right up to birth.

Despite campaigning on this issue for five years, this is the first time she has had the opportunity to speak directly with representatives of the Assembly.

Crowter told the Committee: “The law in Great Britain, and now sadly the law in Northern Ireland, tells me and other people with Down’s syndrome that we are worth less than those without disabilities. That is why I want my voice to be heard and the laws to be fairer”.

“My husband also has Down’s Syndrome and I value him and I think society should too. The law makes me feel very sad it is saying that I, and people like me, may as well have not been born”.

Appearing before the Committee, spokesperson for ‘Don’t Screen Us Out’ Lynn Murrary said:

“We applaud the assembly for rejecting the Westminster regulations promoting abortion for non-fatal congenital conditions last year. The Severe Fetal Impairment (Abortion) Bill is important because it will send out a clear message that Northern Ireland promotes equality and consideration for those with Down’s syndrome and a move in this direction will lead the way for other countries to follow”.

Widespread popular and political support

In February this year, Paul Givan MLA introduced the Severe Fetal Impairment (Abortion) Bill in conjuncture with the ‘Don’t Screen Us Out’ Campaign. Since then it has received a huge level of support with 1,608 people with Down’s syndrome and their families signing an open letter to the Assembly urging them to vote in favour of the bill. Almost 25,000 members of the general public have also signed a petition in support of the Bill.

The Severe Fetal Impairment (Abortion) Bill will amend Regulation 7(1)(b) of the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 imposed on the region by the Government in Westminster last year.

Paul Givan MLA said: “This Bill provides the Assembly with the opportunity to amend the current regulation and to send a clear message to people like Heidi, with a condition like Down’s Syndrome, their families, friends and wider society, that Northern Ireland will not tolerate disability discrimination and they are equally valued”.

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “As tragic as Heidi’s assessment is, she is absolutely right. The current law – which allows abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities but does not permit abortion past 24 weeks for babies without disabilities – does tell people with disabilities that they are valued less than people without disabilities”.
“If you haven’t yet shown your support for this Bill, you can do so by signing this petition”.

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader,

Earlier this year, abortion campaigners brought forward an amendment to the UK Government’s flagship Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that would have introduced abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth (including sex-selective abortion).

Thanks to the support from people like you, this amendment did not go to a vote and pass, but we expect the abortion lobby to make another attempt to introduce this extreme abortion law change shortly.

This would be the single biggest change to abortion legislation since 1967 and would leave England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world.

Please sign the petition to Boris Johnson, asking him to ensure that his Government does everything in its power to stop the introduction of abortion up to birth.

 

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    Be the first to know…

    When you sign up for email updates from us, you will be receiving:

    Action alerts on the latest pro-life developments along with tools to help you change hearts and minds

    Opportunities to help protect and defend more lives

    Where should we send your updates?

      By clicking submit, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms below.

      Right To Life UK will use the information you provide on this form to keep in touch with you and to provide updates. You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at info@righttolife.org.uk. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please see our Privacy Policy.

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