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Disability community condemn Emmerdale abortion storyline

Ross_ScopeRoss_Scope Administrator Posts: 1,327 Pioneering

Emmerdale producers have defended a forthcoming storyline which will see a couple terminate their pregnancy after discovering their unborn child has Down's syndrome.

Last week's announcement of the storyline prompted a backlash from some viewers, who said the ITV soap was adding to stigma around the condition.


What is the storyline?

An upcoming plotline will see Laurel Thomas (played by Charlotte Bellamy) and Jai Sharma (played by Chris Bisson) delighted when they unexpectedly get pregnant.

But an early scan will show the pregnancy isn't developing as expected and there is the possibility the baby has a chromosomal condition. They decide to have a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) test, which is used to determine chromosomal or genetic disorders in a foetus. The result they receive tells them the baby has Down's syndrome.

Laurel and Jai will then be seen agonising over what to do, before ultimately deciding to end the pregnancy.

It might be worth noting that Emmerdale does have one character with Down's syndrome, Rhona and Marlon's 9 year old son Leo.

 

Why some viewers are offended

Some Emmerdale fans and Down's syndrome campaigners said the ITV soap was perpetuating the idea that those with Down's syndrome do not lead lives worth living.

Wendy O'Carroll, the founder of support charity Ups and Downs Southwest, voiced her concerns in an open letter to Emmerdale which was widely shared on social media.

"Your proposed story will further serve to encourage and confirm the opinion that ending the life of a baby just because it has Down syndrome is perfectly acceptable and understandable because maybe it would be better if fewer people 'like them' were in the world,"

"Have you considered for even a moment, how children and adults with Down syndrome who follow your programme will react to two of their favourite characters discovering excitedly that they are to have a baby, and then deciding to terminate the life of that child because it has Down syndrome?"

 

The show's response

Laura Shaw, the series producer for the soap, said:

"We're confident that what we've produced has been done in a really balanced and sensitive way,. We haven't gone into this blindly, we've spoken to as many people as we possibly can. We've got the research, this is based on real life, and I think people will see that."

She went on to say "You're going to feel uncomfortable at times watching it, but I hope that people will then, as they watch it, understand why we've done it."


What do you think of the plotline?

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Replies

  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 1,606 Disability Gamechanger
    Personally I would defend the right for a woman to chose in every case.
  • OxonladyOxonlady Member Posts: 211 Pioneering
    I understand that this is a very controversial subject. But I suppose I am entitled to my opinions as much as everyone else and I'm merely expressing it, not forcing it onto anyone else. So here goes:
    Yes, a woman has a right to choose but so does an unborn child.
    So how do we choose whose right overrides the other's? They are both human beings, with a valid claim to their rights. Do we leave it up to the individual to decide?

    With regards to the question of aborting children simply because they have Downs, it's worth noting that although pre-natal tests can detect Downs, they can't predict the degree of symptoms a child may have once born. In any case, all the Downs people I have encountered, including my lovely auntie, have been wonderful, joyful people with no guile. That, as far as I am concerned, is admirable. I don't see the problem and I don't agree with the Emmerdale storyline. It reinforces the unjustified stigma on Downs children and people with disabilities in general. Should society really be chasing some supposed stereotype of "perfection"? Some people abort babies with a cleft palate for goodness sake. Life is precious, in whatever form. 
  • deb74deb74 Member Posts: 651 Pioneering
     I am very anti abortion. I believe everyone has a right to life! Just imagine if all our parents believed in abortion many of us on this forum wouldn't be here!
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