‘We’re not defined by Down’s syndrome’

People with Down’s syndrome have responded to common misconceptions about their lives in a short feature by BBC Three.

A five minute video entitled ‘Things People with Down’s Syndrome are Tired of Hearing’ shows six people battling misapprehensions about their relationships, learning ability and employment status.

Recent figures show 92 per cent of babies who are diagnosed with Down’s syndrome in the womb in England and Wales are aborted.

Misconceptions

The first misconception given is that “People with Down’s syndrome can’t have relationships”. Responding to this actress Bethany Asher said: “Obviously they can have relationships”, adding: “I’m so romantic”.

Answering the statement “People with Down’s syndrome can’t learn”, Community Councillor Sara Pickard said: “Maybe sometimes they might need a little bit of a push” but “I passed all ten of my GCSEs”.

Heidi Crowter, a hairdresser and pro-life campaigner, said: “I’ve got a qualification in customer service, a qualification in hairdressing”. “People with Down’s syndrome are just normal people”.

Employment

Further on in the video, the participants are confronted by the idea that people with Down’s can’t be employed.

This was laughed down by Claire Minnet, who worked in retail and an office before landing a job with the BBC.

Sarah Gordy, an actor and dancer with the condition, said: “Of course they can”.

Bad attitudes

The participants also heard darker misconceptions about Down’s syndrome, which some people call a disease.

Responding to this, Heidi explained that: “Down’s syndrome is a condition which is caused by an extra chromosome”.

Sara added: “People sometimes do come out with words like Down’s syndrome sufferer. The only thing I suffer from is bad attitudes.”

Testing

Responding to the fact that mothers undergo testing for Down’s syndrome, the interviewees called it “shocking” and “upsetting”.

Laura Burgess, the mother of girl with Down’s, noted that Down’s syndrome babies can be aborted up to 40 weeks, far beyond the 24-week limit for babies without such conditions. She added: “There’s an ethical question there.”

Abortion

In January this year, the National Screening Committee cleared a new blood test which is almost 99 per cent effective in detecting whether or not an unborn baby has Down’s syndrome.

The Committee recommended that the test should be rolled out across the NHS in a bid to “reduce anxiety”.

Director of Education at pro-life charity LIFE Anne Scanlan said: “Whilst this may prepare some couples for the prospect of raising a child with a disability, we currently live in a society which aborts 90% of children with Down’s Syndrome in the womb.”

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