Actress Sally Phillips is raising awareness about the common practice of recommending abortions for unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities.
Phillips, who has starred in several of the Bridget Jones films, has a 12-year-old son with Down syndrome. According to the Daily Mail, Phillips said she was “horrified” to learn how often parents are encouraged to abort babies like her son.
“If we deny someone the chance to be born because we’ve decided they won’t meet some predetermined measure of status or achievement, then we’ve failed to grasp what it means to be human,” the mom and actress said.
Writing for Radio Times recently, Phillips said she has talked to a number of women who were encouraged to have abortions because their unborn babies had Down syndrome.
Here’s more from the report:
‘I have heard many stories of women being pressured by medical professionals to screen, and even to terminate,’ Sally wrote in the Radio Times.
She spoke to the women while making a BBC2 documentary and was told by one that a medic had insisted: ‘Your marriage will break-up if you have this baby.’
… Sally said she could not understand how it is still legal in the UK for a foetus with a disability to be terminated right up until the moment when labour starts.
She was even more disgusted by the fact that disabled babies in the Netherlands can be killed with a lethal injection after birth under the ‘Groningen Protocol’.
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Phillips is a mother to three children including Ollie, who has Down syndrome. Soon after Ollie was born, Phillips said doctors told her that he may never walk or talk. Today, she said her son can recite poetry, swim, dance and ride a bike. She said parents often are told the negative things about having a child with disabilities but seldom are told how positive and loving these children are.
“A few weeks ago, he left me a note just as I was going to bed, telling me there was a surprise for me in the kitchen,” Phillips said. “I went down and saw he’d covered the entire kitchen in icing sugar. I was angry and wanted to shout, but as we were cleaning it up together, we had a really meaningful conversation about how he felt having Down syndrome. He realized what he’d done was wrong, but just thought it would be a nice, yummy surprise for me.”
She recalled, “I couldn’t help but laugh, learning from experiences like these is what being a good parent is all about.”
Phillips has been a strong advocate for children with disabilities in the past few years. Last year, she talked with the Mirror about how abortion is being used to discriminate against babies with disabilities.
“We need to think as a society, I mean we’re signed up to various human rights act. We’re hoping to move towards a more inclusive society. We do have to ask the question,” she told the Mirror. “If you think of people with Down’s Syndrome as being a particular race. Then it’s utterly unacceptable isn’t it.”