NOVEMBER 2016

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 NIPT test given go-ahead by government

September’s Image News carried the report that the government was rumoured to be on the verge of giving the go-ahead for the NIPT (Non-Invasive Prenatal Test) screening program to be available on the NHS, despite widespread opposition. Many worry the test will lead to more babies with Down’s Syndrome being diagnosed and then aborted, as has been seen in the statistics provided by the private sector where the test has been available and terminations have gone up by a third as a result.@ Sally Phillips provided a thought-provoking documentary on the BBC in early October, which highlighted her experiences of being a mother to Olly, her son who has Down’s Syndrome. In the programme, she explored different attitudes and reactions to Down’s Syndrome diagnoses and shows her family’s acceptance and love for Olly as he lives with his condition.@

However, the seemingly inevitable happened on 29th October, when it was announced the screening program would be rolled out, with the first women being offered the test in 2018. The Don’t Screen Us Out Campaign have expressed their dismay at the decision in a press release on their website.@ It reiterates the fact there has been no consultation, despite a ten month campaign by the “community of people with Down’s Syndrome and their families”, an open letter signed by 900 signatories sent to Jeremy Hunt in October 2016@, and a motion “signed by 28 MPs from across the political spectrum”@, all of which called for an in-depth consultation and ethical review before a decision is made. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics confirmed to The Guardian newspaper that it was still conducting its ethical enquiry.@