By Sabrina Bertino-Clarke
Máire Lea-Wilson, the mother of 11-month-old baby Aidan, is suing the UK government for discrimination against children with disabilities.
Current UK law, which normally allows abortion until 24 weeks, permits unborn babies with disabilities to be aborted until birth.
Upon discovering that Aidan had Down syndrome, the mother of two was pressured to abort her son. The assumption was “you wouldn’t want a child with Down syndrome”.
Baby Aidan was diagnosed with Down syndrome at 34 weeks (8 months) gestation.
“At a time when I was scared and vulnerable, it felt like the assumption was that we would abort our baby.”
“The first thing that they wanted to talk about [in hospital] was whether we wanted to terminate the pregnancy, and I was 34 weeks pregnant at the time, so it was quite a difficult question to get asked.”
“It is really tough to think back on that, I find it really difficult to think that Aidan’s life isn’t seen as valuable as his older brother’s, it makes me worry as to whether he’ll be seen the same or treated the same.”
Ms Lea-Wilson and her husband rejected the doctors’ pressure to abort and now the couple “can’t imagine life” without their son.
“I have two sons and I love and value them equally and I think it just seems really wrong that the law doesn’t value them equally and we want to change that.”
24-year-old disability rights activist Heidi Crowter, who has Down syndrome, is also suing the UK government in joint legal action. Ms Crowter explained the current law makes her feel “rejected by society” and labelled it “downright discrimination”.
“We are all equally valued and I am someone who has Down syndrome and it makes me feel upset, rejected by society and looked down on. It makes me feel like I shouldn’t exist in this world.”
Ms Lea-Wilson was also concerned about her son’s future. “I also really worry that when he’s older if this law is still in place, how will that make him feel: that he’s not as valuable, that he doesn’t have equal worth?”