Actress speaks out after new Down’s syndrome screening test reduces number of births of those with the condition

British actress Sally Phillips has spoken out against prenatal screenings for Down’s syndrome, as figures published last week revealed they lead to more abortions for unborn children with the condition.

The popular actress recalled to The Sunday Times how she received a deluge of almost entirely negative reactions when her son Olly was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome.

Phillips said the moment Olly’s condition was diagnosed, 10 days after his birth, “the doctor said, ‘I’m sorry’ and the midwife cried.”

In 2016, Theresa May’s Conservative government pledged to roll out non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) nationally from 2018, but this is yet to happen.

In England & Wales, government statistics show that where Down’s syndrome has been discovered in the womb over 90% of women choose to abort the child.

Sally said: “It is a sad indictment of society that the things people with Down’s syndrome offer are not valued and are thrown away so easily”.

Figures published last week show that the number of babies born with the condition has dropped by 30% in NHS hospital trusts that offer new non-invasive prenatal tests.

Sally said: “If we were screening for sexuality or race, there would be an enormous outcry.” 

She added that fewer people being born with the condition would mean “less incentive to invest in education, improved healthcare, job opportunities and the specific kind of support that those with Down’s syndrome need”.

Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for Right To Life UK said:

“Our current law allows babies with Down’s syndrome to be aborted right through to birth. Already 90% of babies diagnosed in the womb with Down’s syndrome are aborted in England & Wales. The figures released this week show that new non-invasive prenatal tests are likely to lead to even more babies who have Down’s syndrome being aborted. 

The Government should not be rolling out these tests if there is evidence that they are leading to more babies with Down’s syndrome being aborted. Now there is clear evidence that this is the case, it’s time that the Government pulled the rollout.”

(Image credit: Adobe Stock: File #308639074)