We have learned that a storyline on the popular TV soap Emmerdale will shortly feature a couple deciding to terminate their pregnancy because they have received a pre-natal diagnosis of Down syndrome. We do not welcome this storyline. It will be challenging and distressing for many people with Down syndrome and their families, as well as for expectant parents.
In 2018, the people of Ireland voted decisively to repeal the 8th amendment and allow women the right to choose whether or not to continue with their pregnancy. We voted to allow people to make their own decisions, and we need to respect their right to do so.
However, we also believe that it will be difficult for many people with Down syndrome and their families to see this choice played out in their homes through the TV.
People may choose to end a pregnancy for many reasons, but by identifying the diagnosis of Down syndrome as a key factor, the programme is targeting a specific group unnecessarily. Emmerdale, like all TV soap operas, relies on dramatic themes, but 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. This storyline will be challenging and distressing for many people with Down syndrome and their families, as well as for expectant parents.
We have asked the producers of Emmerdale to cancel the storyline or amend it and remove the reference to Down syndrome before it is broadcast on November 30th.
If the programme is not amended, we have asked that the screening of these episodes be accompanied by a trigger warning along with information so that people know where to find support should they need it.
As always, Down Syndrome Ireland will continue to support people with Down syndrome and their families throughout Ireland. If people with Down syndrome and their families require any information or support, please contact us on 01 563 2450 or email email@example.com.