More inclusion and acceptance
The number of children in the UK born with Down syndrome rose between 2000 and 2006 by about 15%. According to the Down’s Syndrome Association, nowadays more parents simply feel that life and society have improved for people affected by Down’s. Religious or pro-life beliefs were only a factor in about a third of the parents surveyed by the association. Others said that they had been influenced by personal acquaintance with Down syndrome people.
Carol Boys, the association’s CEO, was stunned. “We are all very surprised by this. It wasn’t what any of us working in the field would have anticipated and it seems to show more parents are thinking more carefully before opting for pre-natal screening and termination –- that being born with Down’s syndrome is being seen in a different light today.
“When I and others had our babies, it was a very different world – those with Down’s syndrome were treated very differently. Now, there is much greater inclusion and acceptance, with mainstream education having a huge role. We think this plays a part in the decisions parents make – there’s even been a baby with Down’s syndrome on [the television program] EastEnders.”
However, as Dominic Lawson, a former editor of the Spectator and the London Telegraph, pointed out in the Independent, a strong eugenic streak persists amongst British doctors.
“For make no mistake: despite all the progress which children with Down Syndrome are now making in schools and homes up and down the country, the medical profession in general still has a visceral bias in favour of eugenic termination, which its practitioners are often startlingly crude in expressing… it is a function of the fact -– which is undeniable -– that people with Down Syndrome are likely to cost the [National Health Service] more in subsequent medical treatment than a child without any disabilities.” ~ Scotsman, Nov 24; Down Syndrome Association, Nov 24; Independent, Nov 25
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