A campaigner with Down’s syndrome has urged Stormont to reject “hurtful and offensive” laws allowing abortion up to the point of birth for all disabilities, including cleft lip, club foot and Down’s syndrome, in Northern Ireland.
Last year, in the absence of a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly, politicians in Westminster voted to impose an extreme abortion regime on the province.
The Government was not required to introduce abortion for cleft lip, or other disabilities such as Down’s syndrome, to Northern Ireland.
Yet, to the dismay of disability advocacy groups, those with disabilities and their families, the Conservative Government have now introduced disability-selective abortion right up to birth.
The new regime, which also allows de facto abortion for any reason up to 24-weeks, came into force as law on 31 March.
An influential House of Lords Committee has released report which is highly critical of the new regulations.
Now, ahead of a parliamentary vote on the abortion regulations next week, Heidi Crowter has written to political party leaders in Northern Ireland requesting they reject any regulations from Westminster that allow discriminatory disability-selective abortions right up to birth.
In a letter to the Belfast Telegraph, the 24-year-old woman with Down’s syndrome said: “Boris Johnson’s Government did not have to introduce abortion for babies with Down’s syndrome up to birth to Northern Ireland. They chose to do this.
“That’s both hurtful and offensive. My life has as much value as anyone else’s.
“I am asking all MLA’s (Members of the Legislative Assembly) to reject Westminster’s regulations – please don’t vote for more discrimination against people like me.”
She added: “Do not make the mistake which was made in Great Britain in allowing discrimination against people like me just because we happen to have Down’s syndrome.
“Please let Northern Ireland continue to be a country where disabled people are valued.
“Please do not let a law come into practice which will end lives on the basis of disability and stop people like me coming into the world.”
Earlier this year, Heidi launched a landmark case against the UK Government over the discriminatory abortion law that allows disability-selective abortion right up to birth in England, Wales & Scotland.
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 4,200,000 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”.
Her campaign has been shared tens of thousands of times on social media with people adding #ImWithHeidi to their posts.The mothers of children born with a cleft lip have also spoken out in horror against the new regime.