A Newcastle mum of three has spoken out against a latest plot line in the TV hit show, Emmerdale, in which a mum-to-be aborts a baby following a Downs Syndrome diagnosis.
“NORMALISING” the termination of an unborn baby with Down’s Syndrome is how one local mother has described a controversial storyline on Emmerdale which is yet to be aired writes Laura Barr.
Newcastle woman Fiona Allister has spoken out against the popular soaps storyline where character Laurel Thomas makes the decision to abort her baby after a diagnisis of Down’s Syndrome at the first scan.
Speaking to Down News, Fiona said the storyline is “highlighting and normalising termination as an option and showing this decision to be a good thing.
“It highlights that a child or person with Down’s Syndrome is not worth their life and not worthy of birth” she added.
Fiona is the proud mum to three daughters, Emily (11), Sophie (6) and Abigail (5).
She said: “Sophie has an extra chromosome but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve the right to life, in fact she lives life to the full.
“She is most definitely not a ‘Downs child’ and she also isn’t suffering or affected by Down’s Syndrome.
“It is who she is and what makes her Sophie,” Fiona continued.
Sophie is a mainstream Primary Two pupil at Newcastle Primary School.
“She is an extremely popular girl both with her peers and the teachers.
“Sophie is also in her second year at Mourne Rainbows and completes the activities and badges alongside all the other Rainbows.
Mum Fiona said: “She enjoys swimming and the usual six-year-old things. She loves going to the play park, soft play areas and most of all, engaging with others.
“Ask anyone who knows Sophie, and they will tell you she always has a smile on her face.”
Currently in Northern Ireland, an abortion is permitted right up until the point of birth where an unborn baby has a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality, or where the child is likely to suffer severe mental or physical impairment, including Down’s Syndrome.
Fiona explained that this is what she finds “most shocking”.
She added: “My daughter, Sophie was born two days before her due date at a very healthy weight of 6lb 6oz and to know I could have legally aborted her an hour before she was born, if I was informed she had Down’s Syndrome, is completely and utterly shocking.
“I think in Northern Ireland we haven’t been exposed to abortion until recently, but I know in England it is actively encouraged by medical professionals to terminate an unborn child with an ante-natal diagnosis of Downs Syndrome.
“90% of people opt for the termination according to the latest statistics” Fiona added.
The actress who plays Laurel Thomas in the long-running Soap appeared on breakfast chat show, Lorraine on Tuesday morning.
Charlotte Bellamy urged viewers to follow the storyline before making an opinion.
Speaking on the chat show about the storyline, she said: “Of course, it’s going to cause huge debate and it is a highly emotive subject.
“But I think it’s important to say Emmerdale aren’t making judgements. They’re not taking sides.”
A petition has been made by fans of the long-running soap to stop the storyline from airing.
Many individuals who have Down’s Syndrome, and their families have spoken out against the plot and encouraged others to do the same on social media.
Fiona hopes that the more people who speak up on the matter, the better and that hopefully the storyline will not be aired.