Editor’s note. October is Down syndrome Awareness Month. We are posting stories, just like this one, all month. This comes from our friends at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children—SPUC.
Heidi Crowter is a 20-year-old woman from Coventry who happens to have Down’s syndrome. She lives independently, works in a hair salon and loves to laugh.
Last week she attended a rally outside Parliament organised by ‘Don’t Screen Us Out’, protesting against the potential introduction of a controversial new pre-natal test for Down’s syndrome and urging Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, to join their cause.
A video captured of Heidi talking at the rally [www.youtube.com/watch?v=PICqpPREZOU] has gone viral since it was uploaded to social media, gathering nearly 200,000 views. In it, she calls for equal protection of unborn children with disabilities and asks Jeremy Hunt not to introduce the new test, which campaigners believe is likely to lead to an increase of 92 abortions for Down’s syndrome annually.
A source at the rally told SPUC: “It was so emotionally powerful being at the rally. I was there chanting ‘don’t screen them out’, but Heidi was next to me saying ‘don’t screen us out’ – and that really hit home. It’s not abstract for her – in different circumstances she could have been killed because of this pre-natal screening.”
“All life is precious … we deserve to live”
Now the BBC has picked up on the story too. In the video below [www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSB2dTOW9Tw], Heidi explains why she’s speaking out:
“I wanted to get across that all life is precious and it doesn’t matter if you have a disability. And I want to get across to Jeremy Hunt: ‘don’t screen us out’; that we are precious and that we deserve to live.”
Heidi’s mum Liz explained further:
“At the moment, when a baby is diagnosed with Down’s syndrome, after an amniocentesis, which is at about 20 weeks, over 90% of mothers choose to terminate. So there are already fewer babies with Down’s syndrome being born.”
“I live life to the full”
Supporters of the UK’s abortion law will argue that abortion needs to remain legal up to birth because people born with Down’s syndrome and other ‘severe’ disabilities – such as spina bifida, cleft palate and club foot – are not capable of living fulfilling lives.
But Heidi’s view is clear:
“I live life to the full, I don’t ever let it hold me back, and I love every day.”