Three Down’s syndrome babies are aborted every day as the number of Down’s pregnancies increases, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Researchers said that nine in ten women who find out they are having a baby with Down’s syndrome opt for a termination.
The number of Down’s syndrome pregnancies has risen by more than 70 per cent in the last 20 years, University of London research reveals.
Doctors say the increase is because more women are delaying pregnancy until their 30s and 40s which raises the risks of Down’s syndrome.
The widespread use of pre-natal screening for the condition has also been blamed for the rise.
The number of Down’s pregnancies rose from 1,075 diagnoses in 1990 to 1,843 by 2008, the research covering England and Wales shows.
But despite the higher number of Down’s pregnancies, the number of Down’s syndrome live births has fallen by one per cent, from 752 to 743, according to the research published in the British Medical Journal.
Under Britain’s abortion laws a Down’s baby may be aborted at any time up to the point of birth.
Pro-life campaigners fear that the widespread use of pre-natal scans without proper support will increase the number of abortions.
Norman Wells, of Family and Youth Concern, said: “The high proportion of mothers opting to abort a baby with Down’s syndrome suggests that there is a need for pregnant women to be made aware of the support that is available to families caring for a child with Down’s.
“All too often women are given the impression that having a child with a disability or learning difficulty is the worst possible thing that could happen to them, when this doesn’t have to be the case at all.
“A child with Down’s syndrome should be prized and treasured no less than any other child.”
Joan Morris, professor of medical statistics at Queen Mary, led the research and she said: “What we’re seeing here is a steep rise in pregnancies with Down’s syndrome but that is being offset by improvements in screening.
“It was thought that these improvements would lead to a decrease in the number of births with Down’s syndrome. However, due to increases in maternal age this has not occurred.”
“Another human being”
The BBC is reporting today that doctors told Natasha and Eddie Batha that there was a one-in-170 chance that their daughter Mia, who is now three, would be born with the condition.
Mr Batha told BBC Breakfast that their shock of learning that Mia did have Down’s syndrome soon gave way to the realisation that the condition was not as bad as they feared.
He said: “You’re led to believe that it’s the worst thing that could possibly ever happen to you.
“And then you realise it’s just another human being who happens to be a little bit different.
“She just takes a bit more effort and she is a bit slower to pick up on things.”
In November 2008 a series of families spoke of how they were glad they didn’t abort their Down’s babies.
“Our best decision to keep our Down’s son”
One family explained why they were glad they didn’t abort their son despite knowing about his condition.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Louise Adkins says she and her husband never considered ending the pregnancy when Down’s syndrome was diagnosed.
She said “I looked at my [other] two sons and asked myself, what would I feel if one of them had a terrible accident and lost some of their potential?
“I wouldn’t accept them any less, love them any less. My husband was very positive, which helped.”
“Great quality of life”
Frances and Paul Dine discovered that their unborn baby had Down’s through a twelve week scan. They told the BBC how little thought they gave to the possibility of abortion.
Mrs Dine said: “Things have moved on and babies with Down’s syndrome can have a great quality of life.
“At the back of our minds we did keep alive the possibility that she might not have Down’s syndrome but we knew that we would be able to cope if she did – there’s so much out there for her.
“Schools are integrated and there are even actors with Down’s syndrome.
“There’s a worker at our local supermarket who has Down’s syndrome and we think that it doesn’t need to hold you back.”
Victoria Lambert, a journalist writing in the Sunday Times, warned that women shouldn’t be expected to abort their babies if pre-natal screening showed a disability.
She described her experience of being told about her unborn son’s condition, and the expectation that she would end the pregnancy.
She said: “What no one seems to address is why this test – and the others – exists.
“The orthodoxy may be that it helps to prepare a couple for the possibility that their baby’s future will not be as they envisaged.
“But anyone who has been given a result that differs from the norm knows the expectation is that the pregnancy will be ended.”
She said: “What nobody told me, then or later, was that not everybody terminates such a pregnancy.”
She added: “Had I been offered professional counselling at any stage in this chain of events, I’ve no doubt that my experience would have been different. I didn’t know I could ask for it, and I certainly wasn’t recommended any.”
Victoria says she has regretted her decision ever since, but feels unable to say so.