NIPS“could reduce the amount of money spent on caring for people with Down syndrome”. This is the recent announcement from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Britain which is advising the NHS to carry out a “thorough financial analysis” to evaluate the “advantages” and “profitability” of NIPS. The NHS currently wants to “limit the NIPS option to women in the high-risk category”. However, as far as the College is concerned, “although the decision [to limit testing to high-risk women] is primarily based on cost, a more thorough financial analysis must be conducted and should include the life-time cost of caring for children and adults with Down syndrome”, in order to consider offering this test to all pregnant women.
The recommendation has been condemned by associations defending the disabled who find it “shocking””to put a price on the life of people with Down syndrome” and “worse still, to think that this recommendation has come from a highly respected medical college”. The parents of Down syndrome children have reacted strongly:
- “The cold and calculated argument that seeks to strike a balance between human life and medical costs is terrifying and deeply concerning (…) Our children are not a burden”.
- “We are told that NIPS allows women to make a choice but it is nothing more than a smoke screen for health professionals who off-load their responsibility”.
- “My daughter’s life is worth more than the cost of any care she might need”.
- “As the parent of a young person with Down syndrome, I am deeply concerned by the suggestion that the cost of lifetime care for children and adults with Down syndrome should be a factor in determining whether or not they should be born”.
Daily mail, Sam Greenhill (22/09/2016)