Danielle Urie was 37 weeks pregnant when her doctors made a “disgusting” recommendation: Have an abortion.
Urie, 26, of Hillington, Scotland, told the Daily Record that she felt shocked by the pressure she faced to abort her son, Steven, now 9.
Steven was diagnosed with Down syndrome before he was born. In Scotland, England and Wales, most abortions are prohibited after 24 weeks of pregnancy; however, the law allows abortions up to birth in cases of “serious” disabilities.
“I was offered an abortion twice – at 24 weeks and 37 weeks,” Urie said.
Just 17 years old at the time, she said she immediately rejected the notion that it was ok to kill her unborn son.
“I was told they would give me half an hour to think about it. I didn’t need half an hour. I knew straight away I was never going to abort my baby,” she continued. “To allow abortion up to birth is nothing less than murder.”
Urie shared her family’s story to support a case before the High Court in London this week that challenges the UK abortion law.
One of the lead challengers, Heidi Crowter, 26, of Coventry, who has Down syndrome, said the law is “downright discrimination” because it prohibits abortions after 24 weeks on healthy unborn babies but allows abortions up to birth on unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities.
Families including the Uries have said they faced repeated pressure from medical professionals to abort their unborn babies, and this deadly discrimination that is allowed by law needs to end.
Urie told the Daily Record: “Steven has a lot of health complaints but has come through 21 operations. I look at him and think, ‘How can anyone not want a kid with Down’s syndrome?’”
Studies suggest advances in prenatal testing are causing an increase in abortions on unborn babies with disabilities. The Telegraph reports a recent article in the European Journal of Human Genetics found that the number of babies with Down syndrome born in the United Kingdom dropped 54 percent since the non-invasive prenatal screening tests became available about a decade ago.
More than 85 percent of unborn babies who are diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted in England, according to statistics from Public Health England.
Parents frequently report feeling pressured to abort unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities. One mom recently told the BBC that she was pressured to abort her unborn daughter 15 times, including right up to the moment of her baby’s birth.
Maire Lea-Wilson, of west London, whose son has Down syndrome, also is part of the lawsuit. She said doctors suggested an abortion multiple times after they discovered that Aidan had a “50-50 chance” of having Down syndrome, according to The Christian Institute. She said she was 36 weeks pregnant — nearly full term — the last time they recommended an abortion.
It is not clear when the High Court will rule on the matter.
In 2020, the high court in Poland struck down a similar exception in Polish law that allowed abortions on unborn babies with disabilities.
Other stories of families pressured to abort children with Down syndrome include:
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