Woman with Down’s syndrome criticises Amazon over offensive clothing

Heidi Carter, who has Down’s syndrome and is challenging the UK’s discriminatory abortion law, has spoken out against that clothes sold on Amazon with hateful slogans against the condition are offensive make her feel upset.

It comes after the online giant was caught listing and selling t-shirts that say “Let’s make Down’s syndrome extinct!”, for the second time this in one year.

Speaking to Victoria Derbyshire on the BBC, Heidi revealed how upsetting it was for her when she first saw the offensive clothing.

The recently married 25-year-old said: “I don’t like people saying mean things about me… Also the reason why it’s very offensive is because it hurts my husband as well. I love my husband, so much!”

‘Hate speech’

Heidi’s mother Liz Crowter, who was also interviewed by the BBC said that Down’s syndrome is just one extra chromosome and not something that needs to be eradicated.

She said the t-shirts were “hate speech against people with Down’s syndrome.

Giving an example of one of the t-shirts Liz said: “There’s another one where it’s a take on an Amazon review site where it says: ‘Down’s syndrome, very bad’ and then five stars. Obviously, only the one star is coloured in. So, they’re saying people with Down’s syndrome are only one star, which, obviously, again is hate speech and deeply upsetting and offensive.”

The Coventry-based mother said she was fed up with Amazon for allowing the offensive clothing back on the website and criticised them for not protecting disability in its policy on hate speech while protecting most other characteristics.

40,000 sign petition against ‘hatewear’

Over 40,000 people have now signed a petition calling on Amazon to do more to help the Down’s syndrome community fight against hate crime.

Actress Sally Phillips, whose oldest child, Olly, has the condition, is among the signatories of the Change.org petition.

She criticised Amazon for selling Down’s syndrome “hatewear” t-shirts, telling The Times: “Eugenic ideas are really taking hold — the idea that there is this subclass of humans and it is better we get rid of them. If you have a world view in which you regard academic intelligence or money-making possibilities as the ultimate goal… then you feel perfectly justified in saying these things.”

She added: “It would break my heart if Olly saw anyone wearing those T-shirts.”

Heidi’s landmark case

Earlier this year, Heidi launched a landmark case against the UK Government over current abortion legislation that singles out babies with disabilities, 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.”

New prenatal testing has resulted in increased abortion numbers

The introduction of new prenatal screening tests has been linked to an increase in the number of  Down’s syndrome babies aborted in the UK and around the world.

Figures published last year show that the number of babies born with Down’s syndrome in the UK has dropped by 30% in NHS hospitals that have introduced the new non-invasive prenatal tests.

The figures prompted Down’s syndrome advocates to ask the Government to halt the roll-out of the new tests and undertake an inquiry into the impact that the tests are having on the birth numbers of babies with Down’s syndrome.

However, their pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears, as the Government recently announced that it will be proceeding with the procurement and rollout of a nationwide prenatal testing scheme for Down’s syndrome – something which will likely lead to an increase of babies with the condition being aborted.

Additionally, The Department of Health has previously admitted that no assessment was made of the impact that the roll-out of the new tests will have on the lives of people with the condition.

Down’s syndrome abortions likely to increase after UK Govt announce rollout of new scheme

UK Government Down's syndrome screening programme NIPT

The UK Government has announced that it will be proceeding with the procurement and rollout of a nationwide testing scheme for Down’s syndrome which will likely lead to an increase of babies with Down’s syndrome being aborted.

An investigation by the Sunday Times published earlier this year show that the number of babies born with Down’s syndrome has dropped by 30% in NHS hospitals that have introduced new non-invasive prenatal tests.

The figures, released as a result of a number of Freedom of Information requests, show that among the 26 hospitals that provided the tests, there was a change in the birthrate for babies with Down’s syndrome from 1 in 956 births in 2013 to 1 in 1,368 in 2017.

Down’s syndrome advocates have called on the Government to halt the roll-out of the new tests and undertake an inquiry into the impact that the tests are having on the birth numbers of babies with Down’s syndrome.

The Department of Health has previously admitted that no assessment was made of the impact that the roll-out of the new tests will have on the lives of people with Down’s syndrome. 

Collete Lloyd, whose daughter Katie, 22, has Down’s syndrome obtained the figures. She told The Times that she would struggle to explain to her daughter how the tests could be justified, saying:

“How would I tell her, ‘We have a test so that women can make a choice of whether they want to keep a baby like you or not’? It is not a pro-choice or pro-life thing at all. It is the woman saying: ‘I want a baby but I don’t want a baby like that.’”

Only four babies were born in Oxfordshire this year with the condition compared with 12 in 2015.

A study by the National Institute for Health and Research projected that the proposed implementation will result in more babies with Down’s syndrome being identified each year and based on the current 90% of parents with a diagnosis that seek an abortion, this is projected to result in more abortion where babies have Down’s syndrome.

Lynn Murray, spokesperson for the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign said: “As a mother of a daughter who has Down’s syndrome, I see every day the unique value she brings to our family and the positive impact she has on others around her.

“Figures released earlier this year show that the fears of the Down’s syndrome community that rolling out these tests would lead to a large drop in the number of babies with Down’s syndrome were not unfounded.

“While the screening itself is being heralded as a move to reduce the number of miscarriages associated with invasive amniocentesis, figures published in the Sunday Times last December revealed that the number of babies born with Down’s syndrome fell by 30% in NHS hospitals that have already introduced the new test. When this test is rolled out across the country, we can expect to see this situation replicated elsewhere. Such outcomes are likely to have a profoundly negative impact on the Down’s syndrome community.”

“We are calling on the Government to halt the further roll-out of the tests on the NHS immediately and to undertake an urgent inquiry into the impact that these tests are having on birth numbers of babies with Down’s syndrome.” 

Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for Right To Life UK said: “Our current law allows babies with Down’s syndrome to be aborted right through to birth. Already 90% of babies diagnosed in the womb with Down’s syndrome are aborted in the UK. New non-invasive prenatal tests are likely to lead to even more babies who have Down’s syndrome being aborted. 

“The Government should not be rolling out these tests if there is evidence that they are leading to more babies with Down’s syndrome being aborted. There is clear evidence this is the case, so it’s time that the Government pulled the rollout.

Follows Government decision to introduce abortion up to birth for Down’s syndrome to Northern Ireland

Last year, in the absence of a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly, politicians in Westminster voted to impose an 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 introduced disability-selective abortion right up to birth.

In a letter to the Belfast Telegraph, the 24-year-old disability campaigner Heidi Crowter 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. 

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.

‘Screening out’ babies with Down’s syndrome seen as ‘cash cow’

Earlier this year a spokesperson for a Chinese biotech firm declared “screening out” babies with Down’s syndrome is a “cash cow” funding the growth of the whole business.

The admission came from a spokesperson for BGI Group – a Chinese genetics conglomerate whose main business is offering non-invasive prenatal tests, primarily used to diagnose Down’s syndrome. 

In a segment from an Aljazeera documentary titled Genesis 2.0, the spokesperson gestures towards a digital map of the world and says: “You can see clearly, especially for Down’s syndrome, we have nearly two million samples all over the world. This part is, what we call, BGI’s cash cow, making money to support the growth of the whole group.”

Dismissing a query over potential ethical concerns, she coldly adds: “…with the use of our technology, we could avoid the birth of birth defect, like a Down’s syndrome birth, a Down’s syndrome child, we can screen them out, we can avoid the birth of them.”

Parents under pressure to terminate pregnancies

A recent report revealed that pregnant mothers who refuse to abort their children with Down’s syndrome are being pressured by some medical professionals to change their decision.

One mother, whose child is now three-years-old, said medical professionals told her they could leave her baby with Down’s syndrome to die if it was struggling after birth.

Another mum told how even at 38 weeks pregnant she was being offered an abortion. Currently, abortion for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot is legal right through to birth in England, Wales and Scotland, and 90% of babies with Down’s syndrome identified in the womb are aborted.

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, 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”.

Over 35,000 watch woman with Down’s syndrome marry, ahead of disability abortion challenge

Heidi Crowter, who has Down’s syndrome and is challenging the UK’s discriminatory abortion law, got married last weekend in one of the first post-lockdown weddings to take place since Government restrictions were lifted.

The 25-year-old was able to marry her partner James Carter, 26, at Hillfields Church, Coventry on Saturday 4 July – their original planned date.

However, due to the current guidelines, they had to cut their guest list down from over 220 people to just 30.

As a result, the ceremony was live streamed online, allowing the other 190 guests to watch the couple tie the knot.

The livestream was so popular over 1,000 people were watching at one point, while a recording of the ceremony has been watched by over 35,000 people.

Speaking to ITV News, Heidi proclaimed: “It was the best day of my life.”

And, yesterday morning, James told BBC 5 Live: “I married my best friend.”

Before the wedding on Saturday, Heidi and James had not seen each other in over three months, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“It was really upsetting that we hadn’t seen each other,” Heidi told the BBC. “It was like being in prison.”

James has now relocated to Coventry, “to spend my life with Heidi”, and the newlyweds are enjoying a “staycation honeymoon”, with their plans to visit Italy on hold.

The couple are planning a “big celebration” next year after having to swap their reception for a meal at the pub.

Heidi’s landmark case

Earlier this year, Heidi Crowter launched a landmark case against the UK Government over current abortion legislation that singles out babies with disabilities, 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”.

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 has 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.”

Heidi and Máire’s case is being presented by solicitor Paul Conrathe of Sinclairslaw, who has lodged papers at the High Court.

Prime Minister receives huge petition against disability abortion from Heidi Crowter

Heidi Crowter, a 24-year-old woman who has Down’s syndrome, has delivered an open letter to Boris Johnson against an abortion law which makes her feel like she would be “better off dead”.

The petition, which was signed by over 18,000 people from Northern Ireland, urges the Prime Minister and other British MPs to let the people of Northern Ireland decide its own abortions laws.

If the same proportion of the UK population signed a similar petition it would equate to over 600,000 people.

Last year, in the absence of a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly, politicians in Westminster voted to impose an extreme abortion regime on the province.

Under the new regulations abortion is allowed up to the point of birth for all disabilities, including cleft lip, club foot and Down’s syndrome.

MPs are scheduled to vote on whether to approve the extreme abortion regulations tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s vote follows the last Westminster vote on Northern Ireland’s abortion legislation, almost one year ago, in which 100% of Northern Irish MPs present voted against the proposals.

However, abortion was imposed on Northern Ireland, regardless, because of the greater number of English, Welsh and Scottish MPs, enforcing their different view on the province.

Northern Irish MPs have continued to speak out against the changes and a number of them, including Carla Lockhart, joined Heidi today at Downing Street.

‘Downright discrimination in the womb’

Speaking at Downing Street, today, Heidi said: “I’m asking MPs to respect the vote of Northern Ireland and make sure that it stands and to allow equality in the womb for every baby.

“I want this to happen because I’m someone who has Down’s Syndrome and I feel that the law makes me upset, it makes me feel like I’m better off dead.

“I think it sends a really negative message.”

She added: “I think the law which allows abortion up to birth for non-fatal disabilities such as mine is downright discrimination in the womb.”

‘Both lives matter’

Carla Lockhart MP who launched the petition with Baroness O’Loan said:

“Today at Westminster, along with colleagues and Heidi Crowter, we have delivered a petition to the Government saying no to the extreme abortion regulations that are being forced on the people of Northern Ireland.

“Along with over 18,000 people from Northern Ireland who signed the petition, we want to send a clear message to the Government that the people of Northern Ireland do not want Westminster imposing these extreme abortion laws on them.

“Instead, we join with Heidi Crowter in saying ‘no’ to discriminatory disability-selective abortion.

“We join Heidi in saying both lives matter.

“It is not the right of this Government to implement such far-reaching abortion laws on Northern Ireland that will see abortion up to birth for disability.

“So, as the vote takes place I am urging Westminster MPs to allow the devolved region to legislate in regards to abortion.”