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Down Syndrome Ireland urges Emmerdale producers to scrap pregnancy termination storyline

The producers of the TV show have defended the storyline.

Image: Shutterstock/James W Copeland

DOWN SYNDROME IRELAND is urging the producers of the UK soap Emmerdale to cancel a storyline featuring a couple deciding to terminate their pregnancy after being told their unborn child has Down syndrome.

The group says the storyline will be challenging and distressing for many people with Down syndrome and their families and the difficult emotions and choices that arise when considering termination could have been explored without mentioning Down syndrome.

“We would like to remind TV producers that people with Down syndrome watch TV programmes, listen to the news and read media articles,” Down Syndrome Ireland said.

This storyline will be challenging and distressing for many people with Down syndrome and their families, as well as for expectant parents.

The announcement of the storyline earlier this month prompted a backlash against the ITV soap. An online petition calling for the plot to be scrapped has garnered around 27,000 signatures.

However, ITV has defended the storyline saying “we take our responsibilities extremely seriously when portraying such sensitive issues”.

It added that it consulted with many individuals and organisations – including parents with children who have Down syndrome, charities and medical professionals – before filming the story, which features the characters Laurel and Jai.

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“The full context of Laurel and Jai’s story will be portrayed in detail in forthcoming episodes because understandably the couple only reach this heart-breaking decision after much soul-searching. Emmerdale felt the story of thousands of couples who make this choice every year, feeling unable to talk about it, needed to be told,” ITV said. 

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Ceimin Burke

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