Parents in Australia are calling out the medical community for discriminating against their unborn babies with Down syndrome after a new study found high rates of neglect and discrimination by medical professionals after a prenatal diagnosis.
Julia Laine, of Queensland, and her son Grayson are among them.
She told ABC News Australia that her doctors acted like Grayson’s life was not worth living after he was diagnosed with Down syndrome.
“It was completely awful and biased information that was given to us,” she said.
When she was 20 weeks pregnant with Grayson, Laine said her doctors discovered problems with his heart and suggested he may have Down syndrome; a test later confirmed it.
“We were in shock,” she remembered. “We were sitting alone in the room, just in complete disbelief, because we didn’t think anything along those lines. We just thought we were going to see a healthy little baby.”
Laine said the counseling was very biased; she and her husband were told that having a child with Down syndrome might “destroy” their marriage and become a “massive burden” to their whole family, according to the report.
“They didn’t think his life was worthy. I couldn’t believe I was hearing that from someone who was a doctor and supposed to be providing care to us,” she said.
She and her husband refused to believe all the negative advice. Today, she said Grayson is a happy 3-year-old who brings joy to their family.
“I couldn’t imagine our lives without him,” Laine said.
The life span and quality of life for people with Down syndrome have improved drastically in recent years. Some people with Down syndrome even go to college, get married and have jobs. Yet, discriminatory attitudes remain.
According to the report, a recent study by Down Syndrome Australia found that “half of new parents faced discrimination and neglect from medical professionals during and after prenatal screenings.”
“To hear families being repeatedly asked about [abortion] and not supported … is a case of neglect,” DSA chief executive Ellen Skladzien said. “We heard about doctors who told families that their child would have a lifetime of suffering or that they would never achieve anything.”
Another family told ABC Australia that their doctor scheduled an abortion appointment before even telling them that their daughter had Down syndrome.
They rejected abortion, but others do not. An estimated 90 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in Australia are aborted, according to the report. But the problem is world-wide.
Earlier this year, another mother from Scotland told the Daily Record that she felt shocked by the pressure she faced to abort her now 9-year-old son because he has Down syndrome. She said she was asked twice if she wanted to abort him: once at 24 weeks and once at 37 weeks of pregnancy.
According to the Atlantic, in Denmark, 95 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. Several years ago, CBS News reported 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.
Recent stories of families pressured to abort children with Down syndrome include:
Doctor asks mother in labor if she wants her baby with Down syndrome to be left to die (National Right to Life News)