By 18 March 2016 Uncategorized

Press Release, 18th March 2016

Stop Discriminating Down

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March 21st is World Down syndrome Day. A day to show the world the talents and power of our loved ones with Down syndrome. A day of celebration.

In 2016 however, March 21st has also become a day in which we need to acknowledge the basic right to exist of people with Down syndrome. The pharmaceutical industry is continuing to perfect its screening methods to detect Down syndrome in utero. Non invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) can identify Down syndrome in an unborn child by testing the mother’s blood, and it is spreading quickly across the world. Increasingly, governments (including France, the UK and the Netherlands) are preparing to introduce NIPT into their public healthcare programs as part of standard prenatal care.

With an ever increasing use of prenatal screening and a termination rate already higher than 90% following diagnosis, Down syndrome has become a symbol for genetic screening and selective abortion.

It is high time to ask ourselves how ‘free’ is a woman’s ‘choice’ when insurers, medical professionals and governments are aggressively promoting prenatal screening policies as a part of public healthcare? Added to this the financial incentive to the industry is tremendous. It is expected that the market value of prenatal screening will be $10.5 billion by 2020.

Offering routine screening for Down Syndrome implies that Down Syndrome is undesirable, and should be eliminated. How ‘free’ can a woman be to choose when she risks social blame if she chooses to keep her child?

Mass termination of fetuses with Down syndrome and other variations has become socially acceptable. Government backed prenatal routine screening legitimizes ‘eugenic use’ of these new tests. Pro-life and pro-choice groups, refusing to idly stand by whilst individuals with an extra chromosome ‘disappear’ from society, are getting together to form a unique and growing International movement.

The Stop Discriminating Down campaign aims to raise awareness of the threat of prenatal testing to those with Down syndrome . We also wish to ask the world community to reject prenatal screening programs that have as their purpose the elimination of people with Down syndrome.

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