Over 900 people with Down’s syndrome and their families have signed a petition opposing controversial prenatal screening proposals.
The petition was delivered to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt by a campaign group who argue that the proposals will lead to the systematic abortion of Down’s babies.
Don’t Screen Us Out say their concerns have been “constantly ignored” by the Government.
The group also received support from a number of organisations and politicians at an event in Parliament.
Heidi, a young woman with Down’s syndrome, said: “The things people are saying are making me cry because people don’t value us like they should. I think people should value everyone, we should value people for who they are not for what they achieve”.
Alex Chalk MP said there is concern that parents who may consider abortion for children with Down’s syndrome “do not have the full facts” and may assume that it is a “life of hardship”.
It is currently legal in England and Wales for an unborn child with a disability to be aborted up until birth.
Earlier this year, it was announced that the NHS would be offering Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) which is claimed to be 99 per cent accurate at predicting the likelihood of unborn children having Down’s syndrome.
Lynn Murray, speaking for Don’t Screen Us Out, said: “As a parent of a teenage daughter with Down’s syndrome, I cannot believe how much families have been sidelined in this whole debate around prenatal screening.
“We have not been consulted despite our constant requests that our voices be heard by the Department of Health.
“We went to the Department of Health to send a strong message to Jeremy Hunt that the lives of our children are valuable and that the UK government should be putting its energy behind providing real support for our families and other parents who are expecting a child with Down’s syndrome”.
‘World without Down’s’
A BBC documentary aired last week sparked widespread media debate about society’s treatment of people with Down’s syndrome.
‘A World without Down’s syndrome?’ was presented by actress Sally Phillips, whose eleven-year-old son Olly has Down’s.
Phillips also appeared on the BBC Radio 4 programme Moral Maze and said: “The very existence of screening underlines the idea that people with Down’s syndrome are optional and inferior”.