Rachel Mewes is tired of society telling her that her daughter is better off dead because she has Down syndrome.
The Sun reports the British mother recently launched a petition against the soap opera “Emmerdale” after producers revealed that an upcoming episode would show two characters deciding to abort an unborn baby with Down syndrome. Her petition to cancel the episode currently has more than 17,000 signatures.
Mewes said the episode is “disgusting” and “irresponsible” because it perpetuates discrimination against children like her daughter Betsy, 3, who has Down syndrome. She said she feels “devastated at the bias being peddled” by the entertainment media and what it means for her daughter.
“Promoting abortion of babies with Down’s syndrome through this storyline is absolutely disgusting,” the 38-year-old mother said. “It violates the human rights of people with the condition, and their families, who should not be expected to have to put up with such prejudice in mainstream media. It suggests that themselves or their child would be better off dead.”
According to the report, the episode is scheduled to air this winter on ITV in England; it will show characters Laurel Thomas and Jai Sharma choosing an abortion after their unborn baby tests positive for Down syndrome.
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Mewes and other families are urging ITV to cancel the episode.
“I am extremely angry. It feels like a deliberate attempt to create a discriminatory narrative around Down’s syndrome,” she said. “It is irresponsible, ignorant and prejudiced. I ask ITV to please bin this storyline.”
She said the entertainment media has a huge influence on society, and it needs to stop promoting misinformation and prejudice against children like her daughter. Mewes said Betsy is her “absolute world,” and families facing a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis deserve to know that their children’s lives are valuable.
“For the sake of the parents who will be misled by this ableism, for people with Down’s syndrome who should not have to put up with this prejudice, and for the sake of my daughter who has to grow up in a world that you are showing believes she will be better off dead,” she said.
Down syndrome discrimination is a problem across the world, and it begins before birth.
One mom recently told the BBC that she was pressured to abort her unborn daughter 15 times, including right up to the time of her baby’s birth. Another mother from Brooklyn, New York said doctors tried to convince her to abort her unborn son for weeks before they took no for an answer.
A recent study highlighted in Scientific American found evidence that families of children with Down syndrome often face negative, biased counseling and pressure to have abortions.
The abortion rates for unborn babies with Down syndrome are extremely high. Several years ago, a CBS News report shocked the nation with its exposure of the discriminatory trend. According to the report, nearly 100 percent of unborn babies who test positive for Down syndrome are aborted in Iceland. The rate in France was 77 percent in 2015, 90 percent in the UK and 67 percent in the United States.