Discriminatory attitudes towards babies with Down syndrome are still rife in the medical profession. Campaigners say pregnant women were being “pushed towards terminations”
By SPUC—the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
In news that shows how prevalent discriminatory attitudes towards babies with Down’s syndrome still are within the medical profession, a mother has spoken out about her horror at being told the point of prenatal screening was to abort babies with the condition.
“It was horrible”
Leah, a mother of two who did not give the BBC her full name, recently went for a dating scan [to see how far along she was] and asked for the screening so she could be prepared if her baby had the condition, which it did not. She has a sister with Down syndrome, and told the midwife that she would not terminate the pregnancy if the test came back positive.
The midwife told her “the purpose of the test is for terminations,” and kept repeating the word for the short amount of time they were in the consultation. Leah said that had she not had experience with Down syndrome she might have gone along with the midwife’s insistence that it was normal to abort babies with the condition, something she described as “scary.”
“We came out of the consultation, my husband and I, literally as if we’d been punched in the guts. We were sat there with tears in our eyes looking at each other and we couldn’t believe what we’d just heard,” she said. “It was just horrible. Really horrible.”
Editor’s note. In a related story, according to the BBC, ”If women are found to have a high chance of having a baby with one of the conditions [chromosomal abnormalities] , they are offered a NIPT [Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing] and given a booklet which explains the condition.
“However, in a letter Health Secretary Vaughan Gething admitted the initial booklets given to mothers having the test had to be replaced after the Nuffield Council on Bioethics said the information was ‘overly focused on the medical problems associated with the screened-for conditions’, ‘lacking in important information about NIPT” and “difficult to navigate.’”