Recently, we had Richard Dawkins telling Irish television it is “immoral to bring a Down’s child into the world if you have a choice”. Indeed, eliminating “any kind of disability would increase the amount of happiness in society”.
Dawkins is one of these celebrated men of opinion, showered with academic honours, who gets away with this stuff under the guise of science. Yet his words are as callous and ignorant as you might expect from the most uneducated bigot.
While Dawkins courts controversy, society follows his advice. Over 90 per cent of Down’s births are prevented through abortion. (Nobody mentions the number of non-Down’s births terminated because tests have falsely suggested the condition).
There are plenty like Dawkins who want to finish the job – as is policy in Iceland and Denmark. That is why Heidi Crowter is more important than Dawkins. She is going to the High Court in London to challenge abortion law which allows Down’s terminations up to the point of birth, as opposed to 24 weeks.
Her lawyer says: "This is a hugely significant moment as the court has recognised it is arguable that the state is acting unlawfully towards babies with Downs Syndrome by allowing them to be aborted up to birth.”
In effect, society will say whether it agrees with Dawkins. Does the right to equality (and this is not a general debate about abortion) prevail – or is this the one form of prejudice that liberal society is willing to endorse?