Current law in England prohibits most abortions after 24 weeks, but makes an exception for babies with Down Syndrome.
According to the 1967 Abortion Act, an abortion can be performed after 24 weeks if “There is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.” Due to this, many late-term abortions of babies with Down Syndrome have been justified.
However, mothers like Sarah Roberts, of Guildford, England, are working to change this perception.
Sarah Roberts was met with discouragement and negativity when she learned that her son has Down Syndrome. “The people who are delivering the news are negative. The first thing someone said to me was ‘I’m sorry, we suspect your baby has Down’s Syndrome. And to me, that message, just made me panic,” she said
To combat the stigma placed on people with Down Syndrome, Roberts keeps a blog called “Don’t Be Sorry.” Through the blog, Roberts started a petition against late-term abortions of babies with Down Syndrome, prompting visitors to sign the petition and support the cause.
According to the petition, “More and more people with Down Syndrome are living independently with varying degrees of support and in paid or voluntary work. Most adults with Down Syndrome can read and write.”
A testimony published last May by David A. Prentice, Ph.D., references a recent study that states that “99% of people with Down syndrome are happy with their lives, 99% of parents said they love their child with Down syndrome, and 97% of brothers/sisters, ages 9-11, said they love their sibling.”
This information shows that the chances of happiness for children born with Down Syndrome and those around them are very high. There are no grounds to abort them based on potential quality of life.
Sarah Roberts describes the effect her son Oscar has not only on her children, but all children as valuable. She says, “They don’t necessarily notice any differences yet but I’m sure as time goes on they will. But I think it’s going to be a benefit to them to have Oscar in their lives, and enrich [them].”