Woman with Down’s syndrome says she is 'better off dead' in eyes of the law, ahead of legal challenge

Gabriella Swerling
·2 min read
Heidi Crowter
Heidi Crowter

A woman with Down’s syndrome has claimed that she is “better off dead” in the eyes of the law, ahead of launching a landmark legal challenge to the Government’s abortion legislation.

Heidi Crowter, who has Down's syndrome, has called for a judicial review to change the current law which allows parents to terminate pregnancies where the foetus has the condition from at any time up until its birth.

Following months of campaigning and legal battling, the High Court has given the green light for her landmark challenge against health secretary Matt Hancock to be heard on the grounds of discrimination against disabled people.

She told The Sunday Telegraph: “The current law is unfair. It makes me feel like I shouldn’t exist, and that I’d be better off dead in the eyes of the law.

“The policy basically says that it’s normal for a baby with Down’s syndrome to be terminated right up until birth.

“The reason why this is important to me is because I have Down’s syndrome, I know what it is to have it, and my husband has it.”

Asked how she feels to have been given the go-ahead with her landmark legal battle, she added: “I feel amazing knowing that the case is going to be heard in the High Court.”

Granting permission for the case to be heard at the High Court, the Honourable Mr Justice Morris said in court documents seen by The Telegraph: “The application for permission to apply for judicial review is granted,” and added that “the claim is arguable on all grounds”.

The 25-year-old worked in a hair salon before the pandemic and has married since she first began legal proceedings and is now known as Mrs Carter. However she is referred to with her maiden name in court documents.

The case has been brought by Mrs Carter, as well as another person with Down’s syndrome and his mother.

All three claim that the current law amounts to a breach of their human rights and that the Health Secretary “has not sought to justify the discriminatory treatment of disabled fetuses” which is enshrined in current legislation.  

In legal papers lodging her complaint, Mrs Carter said that the legislation “has perpetuated a social environment where people with disabilities are discriminated against after birth, and that such aspects of the law are not only “very offensive and hurtful”, but convey the message that such people “are not wanted and are not valued as much as normal people”.

Responding to the case proceeding to the High Court, Lord Shinkwin, the Conservative Life Peer, said: “At a time of astronomical national debt, I cannot believe that Matt Hancock is seriously considering wasting taxpayers’ money defending this case. ”

The DHSC did not comment citing ongoing legal proceedings.