Abortions for Down’s syndrome up – set to get worse if Government screening proposals go ahead

May 18, 2016 | Uncategorized

People with Down’s syndrome, their families and advocacy groups are concerned that the 2015 abortion statistics released today show an increase in the number of abortions for Down’s syndrome.

The statistics show an increase from 662 abortion for Down’s Syndrome in 2014 to 689 in 2015. This is likely to be due to the private availability of cfDNA testing which has already been blamed for an increase in numbers of children with Down’s syndrome screened out by termination.

This situation is set to get far worse if the Government goes ahead with proposals to implement cfDNA testing into the Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme.

The new technique called ‘cell-free DNA’ testing is being heralded as a move to reduce the number of miscarriages associated with invasive amniocentesis, with a National Screening Committee pilot study predicting that it would result in 25 fewer miscarriage per a year.

But proponents of the test have glossed over the fact that the same pilot study predicts the new screening will detect 102 more babies with Down’s syndrome every year. Based on the current 90% of pregnancies that are aborted following a diagnosis, this would mean an increase of 92 abortions for Down’s syndrome annually.

That reduction equates to an overall decline of Down’s syndrome live births by 13% and would lead to a corresponding reduction in the number of people with the condition in the UK. Such an outcome is likely to have a profoundly negative impact on the community of people with Down’s Syndrome.

The Don’t Screen Us Out campaign, a coalition of Down’s syndrome advocacy groups, are urging Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to delay the implementation of the new test until there has been full consultation with the community of people with Down’s syndrome and medical reforms have been introduced which provide greater support for parents who have received a pre-natal diagnosis of Down’s syndrome.

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

“As mother of a daughter who has Down’s syndrome it is deeply concerning to see that the number of abortions for Down’s syndrome have again increased. Sadly this is the tip of the iceberg – if the Government follows through on proposals to make these tests available on the NHS, their own projections show that there will be a steep increase in the numbers of children with Down’s syndrome screened out by termination.”


For more information on the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign, see our website www.dontscreenusout.org or email info@dontscreenusout.org

Selected coverage on the issue:

For a full list see our website – www.dontscreenusout.org

Would the world be a better place without people like my daughter? DOMINIC LAWSON likens the new test for Down’s syndrome to State-sponsored eugenics

Sally Phillips whose son has Down’s syndrome on new screening test – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03t4m0c

Bridget Jones star Sally Phillips whose 11-year-old son Ollie has Down’s Syndrome slams new screening tests: “It’s upsetting”


BBC News: Woman with Down’s syndrome’s message to Jeremy Hunt goes viral


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