Church of England set to lobby Government over rising Downs Syndrome abortions

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first_imgActress Sally Phillips, who has a son with Down's syndrome, made a BBC documentary called A world without Down's last year.  He said the provision of neutral information reflected NHS “best practice” but that anecdotal evidence suggested some doctors were presenting a diagnosis as “bad news” and immediately initiating conversations about termination, which could put parents under pressure. Pointing to figures showing an increase in abortions due to Down’s Syndrome, he said that in 2010 there were 482 terminations of pregnancy because of a diagnosis of the condition. In 2016 there were 706. During the same period there was a fall of 6,000 in terms of overall terminations.  Actress Sally Phillips, who has a son with Down’s syndrome, made a BBC documentary called A world without Down’s in 2016Credit:Rii Schroer  The Church of England is set to lobby the Government over a rising number of Down’s Syndrome abortions.Church leaders raised concerns that a growing number of parents who discover their child will be born with the condition are choosing to terminate the pregnancy, a pattern which could see it wiped out completely. Its governing body will debate a call to regulate providers of non-invasive prenatal testing, a relatively new test for the condition which carries no risk of miscarriage, unlike older procedures such as amniocentesis. The Church said women should be provided with “comprehensive, unbiased information” by doctors and test providers.In a document entitled Valuing People with Down’s Syndrome, set to be debated at next month’s General Synod, the Church warned that the test “has the potential to lead to major reductions of Down’s syndrome live births. “In countries such as Iceland and Denmark, which have almost universal screening and close to 100 per cent termination rates, there is a real possibility that people with Down’s syndrome will effectively disappear from their populations,” it added. Speaking at a press briefing, Brendan McCarthy, the church’s national adviser on medical ethics and social policy, said he had found unregulated websites offering to test a blood sample for a few hundred pounds with no context or information about the prospects for someone with Down’s Syndrome.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Dawn McAvoy, co-founder of pro-life group Both Lives Matter, welcomed the announcement.”Undoubtedly there has been a silence on the Protestant denominations, more than the Roman Catholic church so we would welcome any statement that would advocate the humanity of the pre-born child and value their life,” she said.  “Our hope and our belief is that when people are given the full information and they’re given it in a neutral way, then the Icelandic or the Danish experience is not an inevitability,” he said. However, Jane Fisher, director of advisory charity Antenatal Results and Choices said she thought the proposal was “patronising”. “In our experience women and couples do everything they can do investigate what that diagnosis would mean and they base their decisions on accurate information. There’s been a lot of this messaging over the last year or so which makes women and couples feel an extra level of distress,” she said. “It kind of denies their agency to say that they just do what their health professionals tell them.”last_img read more