Actress Sally Phillips has shared her experiences as a mother of a child with Down’s syndrome in a new TV documentary.
‘A World Without Down’s Syndrome?’ will be shown next week on BBC Two and in it Phillips tackles misconceptions about the condition and explores the reality of life with a Down’s syndrome child.
One in every 1,000 babies in the UK is diagnosed with Down’s syndrome and in England and Wales 90 per cent of babies diagnosed with it are aborted.
“I have heard many stories of women being pressurised by medical professionals to screen, and even to terminate,” Phillips said.
She shared the experience of one mother who was booked in for an abortion without being asked and another who was told: “Your marriage will break-up if you have this baby.”
The actress rose to fame in the Bridget Jones films and has also starred in the BBC’s Miranda.
’Got on with it’
On being told that her son Olly had Down’s syndrome, she said: “Once we got over the initial shock, we just got on with it. It was never going to be easy, but we never moaned about the hard times”.
Doctors warned her that Olly might never walk or talk but Phillips highlighted that he is now able to run, swim, ride a bike, dance and recite poetry.
It is currently legal in the UK for a foetus with a disability to be aborted up until birth.
The actress added: “If we deny someone the chance to be born because we’ve decided they won’t meet some predetermined measure of status or achievement, then we’ve failed to grasp what it means to be human.”
Earlier this year, it was announced that the NHS would be offering Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) which is claimed to be 98 per cent accurate at predicting the likelihood of unborn children having Down’s syndrome.
The highly controversial NIPT has been slammed as a mechanism for screening out babies with Down’s syndrome.