Parents of a child with Down’s syndrome have described their horror at being offered an abortion 36 weeks into the pregnancy.
Ben and Hannah Day were thrilled when they found out they were expecting their first child after struggling to conceive, and were shocked when an abortion was suggested.
They said that one doctor also told them their child would be “mentally retarded”.
The couple were recommended a test for Down’s syndrome for their daughter Iris at 36 weeks after an underlying heart condition was discovered.
They were asked by their doctor: “Can I ask what you will do if it’s confirmed that your baby has Down’s syndrome?” He then clarified: “Will you continue with the pregnancy?”.
Ben said: “We were both taken aback. We didn’t even know abortion was an option. It was awful.”
“We were offered a termination at 36 weeks, which is disgusting”, he added.
Their shock was compounded by an NHS leaflet they were given detailing all the problems their baby might have and challenges they would face if they continued the pregnancy.
“Basically, everything we heard from the NHS was very negative”, Ben said.
He added that if their experience was typical, it is “no wonder so many couples end up terminating”.
Ben and Hannah were also angered by the lack of treatment their daughter received after she was born.
What could have been life-saving heart surgery was postponed three times, and she died before the treatment could take place, aged just five months.
The couple were left with the terrible feeling that more could and should have been done to save Iris.
They said: “As her parents, we were made to feel like an annoyance to the NHS on the day she died – and on every day after she was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome.”
Kate Potter, of the Down’s Syndrome Association, said that many parents of children with the condition “report unsuitable and inappropriate behaviour and language use”.
She added: “Prospective parents have reported feeling pressurised into a termination when being given a very pessimistic view of the life chances of someone with Down’s syndrome.”
In Britain it is legal to abort children with Down’s syndrome up to birth.