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DPA disputes antenatal screening claims

Media Release
For Immediate Release

20 June 2006

DPA disputes antenatal screening claims

DPA, a national assembly for disabled people, is concerned that the full report into antenatal screening for Down syndrome is at odds with National Screening Unit claims about the issue.

The report by Peter Stone clearly states that evidence shows the current screening process “has failed to reduce the number of babies born with undiagnosed Trisomy 21 [Down syndrome]”.

“This is in direct contrast to the National Screening Unit claims that the review is not about reducing the number of babies born with Down syndrome,” says Mike Gourley, President of DPA.

“While DPA agrees that current screening processes need to be reviewed, we are alarmed that this may be happening with a view to eliminating a group of disabled people.

“Currently, the report and surrounding discussions are focused solely on the number of ‘healthy’ foetuses that may suffer through current screening practices. The rights of people with Down syndrome are ignored which is of great concern,” he says.

Mr Gourley says that people born with Down syndrome are not a cost to society and their skills, talent and potential need to be respected.

“The nature of the screening programme means it is very difficult to have representatives with Down syndrome on the review committee. Who’d want to sit listening to others talk about eradicating them? Nevertheless, a committee discussing a process that directly affects people with Down syndrome must find ways to include the people who live with the syndrome,” he says.

ENDS

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