Mother offered full-term abortion because her son had Down’s syndrome

A mother has opened up about the consistent pressure she received from doctors to abort her baby son, even at full-term, just because he has Down’s syndrome.

Cheryl Bilsborrow wanted to speak out after figures published last week revealed that the number of babies born with Down’s syndrome has dropped by 30% in NHS hospitals that have introduced new non-invasive prenatal tests.

Speaking to The Sun about her experience, the clinical reflexologist said: “These tests and the scary, negative way in which the results are currently framed are leading pregnant women to abort their much-wanted babies.”

“My two-year-old son Hector is the most wonderful baby.

“He’s got beautiful white hair and blue eyes, and he is always smiling and laughing, blowing kisses and coming for hugs.

“But when I was pregnant I was made to feel like his life would have no value and that I should abort him. Why? Because he has Down’s Syndrome.”

Cheryl was 43 years old when she fell pregnant with her fourth child. Because of her age, she was encouraged by doctors to have a screening test for Down’s syndrome.

At the screening test, Cheryl discovered there was a high-chance her baby would have the condition, so she, along with husband David, decided to book a £400 NIPT at a private clinic to get a more definitive answer.

The pair received a phone call a short time later from a clinician who said: “Really sorry for the bad news but there’s a 99 per cent chance you are having a baby with Down’s syndrome.”

Cheryl said that from the start the doctors’ perception of the condition was negative and that she was encouraged to have an abortion every time she had a midwife appointment.

“There was no offer of counselling, no discussion about how my life might be enhanced by this baby. Abort and get rid seemed to be the only answer.”

But the pair remained adamant that they wanted to keep the baby.

Cheryl said: “What if the midwife had phoned me and said ‘Please don’t be alarmed. You’re having a baby with Down’s syndrome. We can offer you some counselling and help you meet a family with a child with Down’s syndrome so you can learn more.’

“Instead, they made out it was the worst news in the world.

“Even, at 38 weeks, when I went for a scan, the sonographer said: ’You do know we abort babies full term with Down’s syndrome…’

“The message came loud and clear: babies with Down’s were of no value.

“Now, having had Hector, I know there was nothing to be frightened of…

“It breaks my heart to think that so many babies, like [him], could be robbed of their chance to live happy lives.”     

Down’s syndrome advocates are now calling on the Government to halt the roll-out of the new tests and undertake an inquiry into the impact that the tests are having on the birth numbers of babies with Down’s syndrome.

Currently, 90% of babies with Down’s syndrome identified in the womb are aborted in England, Wales and Scotland.

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 Great Britain. The figures released today 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.”

Hundreds of people with Down’s syndrome and their families call on Sinn Féin and DUP to prevent extreme abortion regime

Hundreds of people with Down’s syndrome and their families have signed an open letter to Sinn Féin and DUP leaders demanding that they form an Executive and prevent extreme abortion legislation that would introduce abortion for babies with Down’s syndrome, right through to 28-weeks gestation.

The letter to Michelle O’Neill and Arlene Foster has already been signed by over 400 people from the Down’s syndrome community.

Currently, in Northern Ireland, disability-selective abortion for Down’s syndrome is not allowed and therefore, extremely rare. 

Figures from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland show that while 52 children with Down’s syndrome were born in 2016, in the same year only one child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales.

In the rest of the UK abortion is allowed up to birth if a baby is perceived to have a disability, including Down’s syndrome and cleft lip, the latest statistics show that 90% of babies found to have Down’s syndrome through screening are aborted.

Don’t Screen Us Out has also spoken out against attempts by Sinn Féin to shut down the debate around this highly discriminatory aspect of the proposed change to the law by threatening legal action against another political party which highlighted this change.

Lord Shinkwin, an advocate for disability equality, has also strongly denounced the plans to introduce disability-selective abortion to Northern Ireland, and noted that currently, “Northern Ireland is the safest place in the United Kingdom to be diagnosed with a disability”.

Shinkwin said that changing the law to allow abortion on grounds of disability in Northern Ireland sends a message to the people of Northern Ireland and to the disabled citizens of Northern Ireland that people who are born with a disability “are better off dead.”

Lynn Murray, spokeswoman for the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign said:

“There has been an amazing response to the letter to Sinn Féin and the DUP in a very short space of time because this is a matter of huge concern to those in the Down’s syndrome community.

We have seen attempts over the last few days by Sinn Féin to silence people highlighting the impact that the issue will have on the Down’s syndrome community by threatening legal action. We support any effort to help highlight the impact on our community of the law change and condemn any attempts to shut down the debate on this. We want to make it clear that our community will not be silenced on this issue – it is vital that this highly discriminatory aspect of the change in law is discussed openly and the public are aware of the impact that this change will have on the Down’s syndrome community.

“We are asking the Sinn Féin and the DUP not to turn back the clock on people with disabilities, not to leave this ‘burning injustice’ as their legacy, and to listen to the voices of our community who will be most affected by this law change. 

“We ask that Michelle O’Neil and Arlene Foster immediately put their differences aside and bring back Stormont to stop the imposing of these deeply discriminatory changes to the law that would bring disability-selective abortion to Northern Ireland.”

(Image credit: Adobe Stock: File #190401505)

Mother wins huge NHS payout after ‘wrongful birth’ of baby born with Down’s syndrome

The NHS has awarded compensation to a mother who said she would have aborted her son if she had known he had Down’s syndrome.

Edyta Mordel sued the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust over a failure to detect the condition in her son, Aleksander Mordel, before his birth in January 2015.

Mordel told the High Court in London, that although she is now devoted to Aleksander, she would have terminated the pregnancy if prenatal screening had been conducted and revealed that Aleksander had the condition.

When she discovered her pregnancy, Mordel claims she told a midwife that she wished to undergo a test that would screen for Down’s syndrome.

Lawyers for the NHS say that she was offered the test, but declined it. Therefore, a scan was carried out without screening.

Mordel’s medical notes record that she was “very and angry upset” when Aleksander was diagnosed hours after his birth, prompting her to sue the NHS for ‘wrongful birth’.

Mr Justice Jay ruled against the Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Trust. The compensation payment is expected to be six figures.

Ruling in her favour, he said: “The claimant probably would have proceeded to invasive testing had she been told that there was a high risk of Down’s syndrome.

“[She] was a relatively young mother and I think that at the end of the day the fear that she might be carrying a child with Down’s syndrome would, at least for her, have tipped the balance.”

The High Court judge added that prenatal screening for Down’s syndrome should be offered to all expectant mothers as “many would wish to exercise their right to proceed to medical termination in the event of a diagnosis”.

In 2017, it was revealed that the NHS Litigation Authority had paid out more than £114 million in compensation to parents who said they would have aborted their children if they knew they were disabled.

Actress Sally Phillips has previously spoken out against testing for Down’s syndrome in the womb.

Phillips, whose 14-year-old son Olly has the condition, says the current system of disability screening is “a form of eugenics”.

She said that she and her son Olly have “happy and fulfilled lives”, as is normal for most families in their situation, and while there are challenges to raising a child with Down’s syndrome, there are also “great, great rewards”.

In England & Wales, government statistics show that where Down’s syndrome has been discovered in prenatal screening over 90% choose to abort the child. In Iceland, almost 100% of unborn babies prenatally diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted.

Spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson said: 

“It is not wrongful that babies are born with Down syndrome or other disabilities. It is wrongful that taxpayer money is compensating a culture and a society which sees disabled children as an inconvenience. 

“It is wrongful that the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe has led to a state-funded programme targeting unborn babies who are perceived to have a disability. Babies, that as evidenced by Sally Philips and many other mothers with disabled children, lead happy and fulfilling lives.”

(Image credit: Adobe Stock: File #195357123)

Over 1,200 march in Switzerland to celebrate life of children with Down syndrome

Over 1,200 people joined the Swiss ‘March For Life’ 2019 to proclaim the right to life of unborn babies.

This year, pro-life campaigners celebrated its 10th anniversary by highlighting the value of children who have been diagnosed with Down syndrome and other special needs.

However, the peaceful event has been marred by repeated violence from abortion activists.

According to Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, police had to briefly detain 175 individuals and arrest at least one on charges of violence and threats against authorities. Protesters also set fire to containers and then attacked some of the firefighters who came to extinguish the flames.

As a result of the violence, authorities had to temporarily stop the March for Life and re-route it before it could continue.

The march concluded at Zurich’s Turbinen Square, with music and representatives sharing testimonies of the value of those with Down syndrome. 

Pro-life campaigners have held, or tried to hold, a pro-life march in September every year in Switzerland for the last 10 years. In 2017, pro-life leaders were forced to cancel the march because of threats of violence, according to Human Life International.

And in 2016, a strong police cordon had to protect the event from 100 radicals who launched smoke flares and condoms at the events participants. In the weeks prior, the buildings of organisations supporting the march were attacked with paint.

Switzerland permits abortion throughout the first 12 weeks of gestation, under certain conditions.

However, abortion is also legal beyond the 12-week limit, if is claimed the pregnant woman’s physical or psychological health is in danger. In 2018, 528 abortions out of a total of 10,457 were carried out in this context.

As in England and Wales, over 90% of babies who are prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted in Switzerland. The figure in similar in France, Belgium and Italy, and has reached almost 100% in Iceland for babies prenatally diagnosed with Downs syndrome.

Lord Shinkwin recently used these statistics to highlight that the UK imposing abortion on Northern Ireland would be telling people with disabilities that they are “better off dead.”

The Lord highlighted the disparity in the rate of Down syndrome based abortions where in England and Wales, compared to Northern Ireland where pro-life laws currently mean unborn children with disabilities are equally respected in law.

“[In Northern Ireland] 52 children with Down’s syndrome were born in 2016, in the same year only one child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales.”

“Is that not a cause for celebration? Is it not to Northern Ireland’s immense credit that disability equality is actually respected ​there?”

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said:

“Switzerland along with England and Wales abort 90% of unborn babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome. Northern Ireland currently has a very different approach where disability-selective abortion is illegal, therefore creating a culture which accepts and supports people with disabilities rather than eliminating them.”

“This is reflected directly in recent official figures showing that almost 100% of babies found to have Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland are born. This greatly contrasts with the 90% termination rate for Down’s syndrome from other parts of the UK.”

(Image credit: Marsch fürs Läbe: Switzerland March for Life 2019)