Pro-life groups are concerned that a new method of testing for Down’s syndrome could lead to the abortion of more babies.
The new test involves carrying out a blood test on the mother. It is much safer than the current method, which involves inserting a needle into the womb to withdraw some of the amniotic fluid. This carries a risk of causing the miscarriage of healthy babies.
There are concerns that more parents will choose to test for Down’s syndrome if the new test becomes available, potentially leading to more abortions.
The parents of Grace, a little girl with Down’s syndrome, told BBC interviewers that the way in which parents were told of a positive diagnosis would be crucial to their decision-making.
Grace’s mother said: “I think that probably more people would choose to terminate, I think that people perceive Down’s syndrome as a very difficult condition, and I think in reality from our experience of having Grace… it is certainly not the end of the world.”
She added, “I really personally feel that Down’s syndrome is not a reason to terminate a baby.”
Grace’s father said: “She’s an absolute joy and a wonderful daughter, and we couldn’t imagine life without her.”
Carol Boys, Chief Executive of the Down’s Syndrome Association, also emphasised that parents taking the test should be given accurate information about the condition.
“We don’t consider Down’s syndrome a reason for termination,” she said.
Abortion is legal up until birth in the case of foetal handicap. An estimated 3,000 babies are aborted each year because of abnormalities as minor as a cleft palate.