Heidi Crowter has Down syndrome, and a message to those who might think people like her are disposable: don’t screen us out. Heidi’s message went viral when she joined a group of Pro-Life advocates lobbying Parliament to turn down a proposal that would expand prenatal screenings on the nation’s publicly-funded healthcare system to include more widespread Down syndrome testing. Crowter knows that the screenings are often used to eradicate babies who, like herself, have Down syndrome, before they ever have a chance to be born.
In fact, the U.K. sees alarming termination rates compared to countries like the U.S. While 30% or more of U.S. babies diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome are aborted, the number is much higher in the U.K., with at least half of babies diagnosed with the condition aborted.
The termination rate for babies with Down syndrome has become such an epidemic in England that even people who otherwise self-identify as pro-abortion are speaking against the injustice. In January, we reported on a letter by a British mom named Elaine, whose twin sons, Ollie and Cameron, have Down syndrome. Elaine wrote a letter to social media followers divulging her concerns about the possible decision. She said: “My worry is this…so many people have shared their experiences with me, detailing the loaded, biased negativity regarding how they were told the news their child had DS, with many being offered a termination in the first sentence.”
Crowter, a vivacious young hairdresser who loves life and lives on her own, joined in the conversation, making comments that have been widely-circulated. She told rally attendees that parents need assurance and information to feel empowered and prepared when they learn of an unexpected prenatal diagnosis:
“When parents are told their baby has a disability, they don’t always get the support and information they need… They are not told the potential that each human life has and how much love and happiness they can have… I am here because I believe that we are all equally valuable and to be equally valued. Moms and dads should be given the help they need so that they don’t think of their baby as a worry… don’t screen us out!” The BBC even picked up on Crowter’s campaign and featured her in a segment:[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSB2dTOW9Tw&w=560&h=315]
We spoke to Lynn Murray, a spokesperson from Don’t Screen Us Out, who told us that Heidi has raised “so much positive awareness” for the campaign to support parents and children dealing with Down syndrome diagnoses. “Having Heidi speak at the Don’t Screen Us Out event in London in April has raised so much positive awareness for our campaign and has encouraged interest from all over the world,” Murray said. “Heidi and other self-advocates humanise the issues we have around prenatal screening and we are sure that her recent efforts will go some way to changing people’s hearts and minds.”
To learn more about the Pro-Lifers who are working to raise awareness of the problems with the current state of prenatal diagnosis for Down syndrome in the U.K., visit Don’t Screen Us Out.