News from Europe

UK High Court upholds law allowing Down syndrome abortions after 24 weeks

A high court in the United Kingdom has ruled against a challenge by a political activist with Down syndrome to overturn the country's laws permitting late-term abortions based on disability.


Two justices representing the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division issued a ruling on Thursday upholding the legality of terminating pregnancies after 24 weeks if the child is at risk of being born with a “serious handicap.” The justices rejected the claim that the law violates international human rights law. 

“The fundamental difficulty is that the European Court has never decided that a foetus, even one post-viability, is the bearer of Convention rights,” concluded the High Court.

“The fact that both domestic legislation and courts, and the European Court itself, have recognised that there may be circumstances in which the foetus has interests which the State is entitled to protect does not lead to the proposition that it enjoys rights under Article 2.”

Last year, Heidi Crowter filed a lawsuit against the U.K. National Health Service for allowing the abortion of babies up to birth if they’re diagnosed as having Down syndrome.


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