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Late abortions following a diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome – the decision in the Court of Appeal

Date:15 MAY 2023
Third slide
Mary Welstead Visiting Professor in Family Law University of Buckingham


Heidi Crowter and Aidan Lea-Wilson who were born with Down’s Syndrome made a claim for judicial review of s1(1)(d) of the Abortion Act 1967 which permits the abortion of a foetus up until the moment of birth if there is a substantial risk that a seriously handicapped child might be born. Other pregnancies may only be terminated during the first twenty-four weeks unless the mother’s health or life is at risk.  The Appellants maintained that the sub-section suggested that their lives were less valuable than others; it infringed their rights under the ECHR.                

The decision has drawn attention to three important issues:

  • The question of the time limit beyond which an abortion may not be sought. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care expressed the view that late abortion: ‘raises profound social moral and ethical questions and there are irreconcilable views on all sides of the debate.’
  • the view that a foetus has no rights...

Read the full article here.