Down syndrome protest at workshop

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 16/05/2012
tdn down stand
ROBERT CHARLES
Nathan Hartley, 15, and Bill Gavin, 17, were among the protesters against a meeting taking place about the detection and subsequent termination of Down's Syndrome babies in the womb.

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Parents of Down syndrome children have been shut out of a nationwide series of workshops they say will help facilitate the genocide of future sons and daughters with the condition.

Last night a group of five parents handed out leaflets to midwives and GPs as they arrived at a workshop on antenatal screening for Down syndrome and other conditions in New Plymouth.

Protest organiser Suzy Dymock said she was kicked out of the meeting when she tried to hand out leaflets containing 11 "facts" about Down syndrome and screening.

Mrs Dymock said it was important that parents of children with Down syndrome were involved in such workshops to change attitudes. She said her pregnancy was treated as a "disaster" when it was found her son had Down syndrome.

"But it was a lie. Nobody was telling me of the good stuff, the truth because he is a real gift. He has got unconditional love and he is a real gift to me," she said.

Mrs Dymock said they referred to the screening process as genocide as a majority of women aborted their pregnancies if told their baby might have Down syndrome.

In Iceland, no Down syndrome baby had been born for two years while Belgium's goal was to be Down syndrome free by 2030, she said.

Though people didn't like to acknowledge it protester Craig Butler said screening pregnancies for Down syndrome was a form of eugenics – the unnatural manipulation of the human population.

"Screening is a way of determining arbitrarily who should live and who should die," he said.

Susie Hartley, whose son Nathan, 13, has Down syndrome, said without their input in the workshops, midwives and GPs could not give parents the full story when advising them on Down syndrome pregnancies.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said the New Zealand College of Midwives and the Royal New Zealand College of GPs were delivering face-to-face Down syndrome screening training for midwives and general practitioners.

The two-hour sessions used an interactive learning model to support practitioners advising women about this screening to be able to have a fully informed discussion with them.

The spokesperson said the views and perspectives of the Down syndrome community were sought in developing the training and the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association had met with the trainers.

They said the majority of the facts in the Saving Downs pamphlet were covered in the training and participants were also provided with website links for more information.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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