With everyone talking about Emmerdale's decision to run a story involving a termination of a Down Syndrome foetus, I wanted to unpack some of these claims.
Many are suggesting that this proposed story is outdated and offensive to individuals who have Down Syndrome, and state that the UK Abortion Act discriminates against Down Syndrome. Currently, UK law states that individuals can terminate a pregnancy beyond the 24-week limit in cases on foetal anomaly.
Firstly, foetal anomalies include a wide range of issues, not just Down Syndrome. That being said I agree that the level of discrimination happening doesn't matter - whether it impacts 1 person or 100. The problem with this argument is that the current abortion law doesn't discriminate against Down Syndrome.
This argument also completely discredits any thinking that individuals have when deciding to terminate for medical reasons. These are not always easy decisions, especially post 24 weeks. We know that very few individuals have post 24-week terminations on the grounds of foetal anomaly, with only 300 in 2019.
Individuals who do terminate pregnancies beyond 24-weeks are in extremely difficult situations.
The ultimate issue is how to even attempt to add what is being suggested to law. Would we suggest that abortion would be legal post 24 weeks for foetal anomaly, excluding Down Syndrome?
This is not possible. We need an abortion law that suits real individuals who have abortions.
Answer: decriminalise abortion and remove the 24-week limit completely (or any time limit). Therefore enhancing access to abortion AND removing any 'discrimination' felt by the Down Syndrome community.
Take abortion out of the criminal law.
There is definitely space for both of these sides. We do not have to compromise on either individual's rights to reproductive healthcare, or the rights of individuals with Down Syndrome. Both are important, and both can be met.
I applaud Emmerdale for portraying real life and real situations that happened to real people across the world.
This is not a case of whether abortion is right or wrong, it is a case of showing what happens in peoples lives and the decisions they make. It is not suggesting every Down Syndrome pregnancy should be terminated, it is opening a door for conversation. It is allowing people who do choose that option to know that their decision is valid.
Pro-choice is defending reproductive decisions, even if you would not make them.