A petition calling on ITV to scrap an Emmerdale storyline on the abortion of a baby with Down’s syndrome has gained more than 23,000 signatures.
The soap will show a couple choosing to have an abortion after they hear their unborn baby has the condition.
It comes at a time when abortions for Down’s syndrome have become high-profile, with the High Court set to consider the current abortion law in light of a court case led by disability rights campaigner Heidi Crowter.
Petition organiser Rachel Mewes, whose three-year-old daughter has Down’s syndrome, said the decision to run the story has “shaken me to the core”, adding that the storyline entrenches “misleading information about Down’s Syndrome that is endemic in our society”.
She said: “Promoting abortion of babies with Down’s Syndrome through this storyline is absolutely disgusting”.
She added that families and people with the condition “should not be expected to have to put up with such prejudice in mainstream media that suggests themselves, or their child would be better off dead”.
Stephen Morgan MP has written to ITV Chief Executive Carolyn McCall to say that airing the plot “creates the negative and offensive narrative that individuals with Down syndrome do not have a right to life”.
92 per cent
Currently in Great Britain, around 92 per cent of those diagnosed with Down’s syndrome in the womb are aborted.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care, between January and June 2020 “there were 339 mentions of Down’s Syndrome” on abortion notification forms.
Laura Shaw, the series producer for the soap, claimed that the storyline was properly researched.
“We’re confident that what we’ve produced has been done in a really balanced and sensitive way,” she said.
Earlier this month, Chris Nikic became the first person with Down’s syndrome to finish an Ironman event in its 42-year history.
The gruelling course involves 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles cycling and a marathon.
The official Ironman account tweeted: “You have shattered barriers while proving without a doubt that anything is possible”.
Chris’s father, Nik, said afterwards: “It’s about being an example to other kids and families that face similar barriers, proving no dream or goal is too high. If Chris can do an Ironman, he can do anything.”