Please treat us equally

Heidi Crowter is a remarkable young woman. When Heidi was born in 1995 the NHS did not carry out 20-week screening scans. So, her parents Steve and Liz didn’t know Heidi had Down’s syndrome until after she was born. Liz says, “We were both absolutely devastated, and took a long time to come to terms with it.” Heidi was also diagnosed with leukemia, pneumonia and kidney failure and had to have open-heart surgery. She says, “I had a hole in my heart and even stopped breathing.” Before she was put on a ventilator, she gave the medical team a huge, beaming smile.

Throughout her life Heidi has defied all expectations. Steve and Liz decided she would be treated exactly like her two older brothers. She attended a mainstream primary school where teachers say fellow pupils learned a lot growing up alongside Heidi. Because she repeated a year at primary school, she ended up in the same class as Suzie, her younger sister. The two girls went to separate mainstream secondary schools. Heidi says, “I loved school and made a lot of friends who I’m still in touch with.” She left school with some GCSEs and went on to do a training course in hair, beauty and employment skills and got a job at Raspberry Kids Hair Salon in Coventry.

Heidi has an energy and enthusiasm for life. She is a fan of Beyonce, Justin Beber and Liverpool FC. Her favourite player is Mo Salah. Heidi dreamed of falling in love and in 2017 started chatting online to James Carter whose family knew Heidi’s family. “We’re both Christians and we love singing hymns. But the thing we really have in common is we both love Last of the Summer Wine.” James and Heidi were married on 4 July 2021 with just 30 guests because of Covid-19 regulations.

Heidi was devastated when, in 2018, she learned 90% of women whose unborn children were diagnosed with Down’s terminate their pregnancies. These pregnancies can be terminated up to birth, compared with the standard limit of 24 weeks’ gestation in England, Wales and Scotland. Heidi decided to attempt to change the law relating to the abortion of babies with Down’s syndrome. In July 2021 the High Court ruled against her but she has now been given permission for her appeal to be considered by the Court of Appeal. Heidi told the judges “The law makes me feel that I am not wanted and loved, it is downright discrimination. People like me should not be discriminated against. Please hear our appeal so all babies can be treated equally, all the time, however many chromosomes they have. So, please, change the law to make us all equal.”