The Memo: Woman with Down's syndrome loses in a Court of Appeal abortion law case

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Woman with Down's syndrome loses in a Court of Appeal abortion law case

Chelsey Stanborough - 12th December 2022

A recent case brought to the Court of Appeal has sought to challenge late-stage abortions of foetuses with conditions such as Down's syndrome. The Abortion Act 1967 offers protection for those aborting a foetus where there is a risk that the baby will be ‘seriously handicapped’, but disability rights campaigner Heidi Crowter had argued that the current laws were ‘discriminatory’, and serve to stigmatise disabled people. In November however, the Court of Appeal dismissed the case on the basis that abortion law decisions fall under the responsibilities of the UK Parliament.

The decision has caused major upset among disability rights activists and campaigners. Crowter argued that the dismissal of the appeal made her feel as though people with health conditions like Down’s syndrome should be ‘extinct’. The case has also served to reignite existing debates around disabled rights, especially in cases where the rights of disabled people come into conflict with the rights of women to retain a choice over what happens to their own bodies.

As more of these debates hit the headlines, it generates a greater public interest in human rights law. At Chambers Student, one of the questions we received most often during our autumn law fair season was: “How do I become a human rights lawyer?” The good news is that we’ve got you covered, with our human rights & immigration practice area overview available here. In fact, law firms offering seats in areas such as crime, family, public, commercial and immigration may see a rise in interest, as young lawyers seek an opportunity to get their foot in the door.  Our top tip: get volunteering at a law centre or organisation to get ahead of the ever-growing competition.