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Down’s syndrome abortions on the rise in Scotland

July 2019

Scottish abortion statistics have revealed a 48 percent increase in abortion for Down’s syndrome since 2010, and campaign groups have claimed this will only get worse.

People with Down’s syndrome, their families and advocacy groups expressed concern over the Scottish abortion statistics released by NHS Scotland’s information services division.

The statistics revealed that there were 34 abortions for Down’s syndrome in Scotland in 2018. While numbers have fluctuated over the last five years, the 2018 number represents a 48 percent increase from 23 in 2010.

This is likely to be attributed to the private availability of cfDNA testing (otherwise known as NIPT) which has already been predicted to increase the numbers of children with Down’s syndrome being screened out by termination.

This situation is set worsen as the Scottish Government intends to move ahead with proposals to implement cfDNA testing into Scotland’s Foetal Anomaly and Down’s Syndrome Screening Programme next year.

The Don’t Screen Us Out campaign, has urged the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman, to delay the test’s implementation until there has been full consultation with the community of people with Down’s syndrome, and the ethical issues of screening are resolved by the introduction of medical reforms.

Lynn Murray, spokeswoman for Don’t Screen Us Out, said, ‘If the Scottish Government makes these tests available on the NHS, projections show there will likely be a steep increase in the numbers of children with Down’s syndrome screened out by termination’.

According to recent statistics, 90 percent of babies with Down’s syndrome are aborted in England and Wales. It is illegal to do so in Northern Ireland.