Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has today spoken at Prime Minister’s Questions and raised the issue of a new screening test for pregnant mothers, after concerns were raised by the ‘Don’t Screen Us Out’ campaign. It is estimated that this new test will identify an extra 102 babies with Down’s prenatally each year.
Speaking to the Prime Minister Mr Evans said,
‘The Department of Health are looking to introduce a cell free DNA test for pregnant women in order to reduce the number of miscarriages, but this will also have the unintended consequence of increasing the number of abortions for those with Down’s syndrome.
‘I know there is nobody in this House that cares more for those with special needs, so will the Prime Minister meet with me and representatives of the East Lancashire Down’s syndrome support group in order for us to look at ways of protecting those with Down’s syndrome and that they will not be simply screened out.’
The Prime Minister responded,
‘There are moral and ethical issues that need to be considered in these cases. But also on the other hand we have to respect the view that women want to have screening and testing about the health of their children and we should be in favour of maximum transparency on the basis that it is optional rather than mandatory, but it is part of routine care.
So the Health Secretary is going to have to find a way through this, but above all to make sure we go about it in the right way.’
Speaking after the debate Mr Evans said;
“The most recent figures available show that over 90% of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down’s are terminated, and I am concerned that this new screening will see this shocking statistic rise further.
The consequence of this screening test will be an estimated 13% drop in the number of live births of babies with Down’s syndrome. I do not want to see babies with Down’s syndrome being screened out and I would strongly urge the Government to look again at its introduction.”