In 2017, 655 babies with Down syndrome were aborted in the United Kingdom, i.e. 218 more than in 2007. This represents a 50% increase over ten years, mainly due to the use of NIPT. NIPT is a test considered 99% reliable and requires only a simple blood test from the mother. Currently, it is only available in private facilities, but from next year, the NHS will offer it to all pregnant women with a risk of Down syndrome greater than 1/150.
According to the association Don’t Screen Us Out, the generalisation of NIPT could lead on average to an additional 92 abortions due to Down syndrome each year, a 13% decrease in the birth rate. This procedure is likely to have a “profoundly negative impact” on the community of people with Down syndrome, especially since 90% of babies with this condition are already aborted.
Lynn Murray, spokesperson for Don’t Screen Us Out and the mother of an 18-year-old girl with Down syndrome, says these figures are “deeply worrying” and points out that there are other solutions as in Northern Ireland. There is a real “culture of acceptance and support for people with disabilities rather than eliminating them”, she explains, adding that “this is directly reflected in recent official numbers showing that nearly 100% of babies with Down syndrome in Northern Ireland were born“. It is “a very different approach” for Down syndrome where selective abortion due to disability or Down syndrome is illegal.
Daily Mail, Sam Blanchard (14/12/2018)