Bishop Sherrington on Heidi Crowter case

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Bishop John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and Lead Bishop for Life Issues for the Bishops’ Conference, has commented on the Court of Appeal’s decision that the Abortion Act did not interfere with the rights of those with disabilities.

Heidi Crowter, 27, a woman with Down’s Syndrome, lost her appeal and said, “I want to change the law and I want to challenge people’s perception of Down’s syndrome. I want them to look at me and say ‘this is just a normal person’.”

Bishop Sherrington commented:

“I am deeply saddened that Heidi Crowter’s campaign to recognise the child with disability in the womb as an equal has been rejected by the Court of Appeal. The law which protects her after birth did not protect her in the womb – indeed, a disabled person, such as Heidi, can be aborted up to the moment of birth on the basis of their disability alone. This is illogical and unjust.

“Whilst the judgment claims that the section 1(1)(d) of the Abortion Act 1967 does not have ‘any significant role in causing discriminatory attitudes against disabled people generally, or those with Down’s in particular’, the year-on-year increase in disability-selective abortions tells a very different story. I echo the words of Pope Francis, who strongly discouraged the use of prenatal diagnosis for selective purposes as ‘it is an expression of an inhuman eugenic mentality, which deprives families of the possibility of welcoming, embracing and loving their weakest children.’

“We must continue to advocate for greater support for families caring for a child with disability. I offer my prayerful support as Heidi considers seeking permission for the case to be heard at the UK Supreme Court.”