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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.”

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader

In 2020, the UK Government imposed an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, which included a provision that legalised abortion right up to birth for disabilties including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

A new Bill has been launched at the Northern Ireland assembly that will remove the current provision that allows abortion for ‘severe fetal impairment’.

It is under these grounds in the regulations that babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot can currently be singled out for abortion in Northern Ireland because of their disability and can be aborted right up to birth.

Before the new abortion regime was imposed on Northern Ireland in 2020, disability-selective abortion for conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot was not legal and there was a culture of welcoming and supporting people with these disabilities rather than eliminating them.

This is reflected directly in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, which show that while there were 52 children born with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, in the same year only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales. 

This contrasts with the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom where disability-selective abortion has been legal since 1967.

The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to take 30 seconds of your time and add your support to the campaign to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot in Northern Ireland.

If you live in Northern Ireland: 
Ask your MLAs to vote to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot:

If you live outside Northern Ireland: 
Show your support by signing this petition in support of the Bill:

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Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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