Canadian Down Syndrome Society
calls prenatal testing recommendations for Down syndrome discriminatory
February 1, 2007
CALGARY (February 1, 2007) - Proposed recommendations from the Society
of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) discriminate
against citizens with Down syndrome, according to the Canadian Down
Syndrome Society (CDSS).
The recommendations, published in the Journal of Obstetrics and
Gynaecology Canada, indicate that all expectant women should undergo
prenatal screening for Down syndrome; previously, this was primarily
extended to women over 35.
A critical component of this screening process is the context, the
language, and manner in which these conversations about the possibility
of Down syndrome occur. The CDSS is greatly concerned that information
provided to parents be clear, accurate and unbiased.
"We know that information is important for prospective parents
to make the best decisions for their family. For families undergoing
prenatal testing, it is critical that value-neutral information
be conveyed about the
reality of Down syndrome," says Krista J. Flint, CDSS Executive
Director. "Parents have told me that they heard this child
with Down syndrome would "ruin their life" or 'would never
be toilet-trained' - that's not
information; that's a bias."
The CDSS hopes that just as the SOGC extends its recommendations
for more Down syndrome screening, the organization would emphasize
the importance of impartial information to prospective parents.
Flint says the CDSS is also gravely concerned about the possibility
of a future without citizens with Down syndrome.
"People with Down syndrome enhance the learning, lives and
citizenship in our schools, workplaces and families," says
Flint. "My children's children may inherit a world without
Canadians with Down syndrome - and that's not a good future."
CariAnn Hougen, an adult with Down syndrome, says the testing seeks
to eliminate people specifically because they have Down syndrome
- people like her.
"The idea that this testing will eliminate people like me
is horrifying," says Hougen, chair of the Voices at the Table
Advocacy Committee, a group of 11 adults with Down syndrome from
across Canada who
serve as an advisory committee for the CDSS. "People with Down
syndrome are going to school, working and getting married - it's
wrong to assume that we would be simply a burden to families, to
the medical system or to the community."
The Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) is a vital resource linking
individuals, parents and professionals through advocacy, education
and providing information. The mission of the CDSS is to ensure
equitable opportunities for all Canadians with Down syndrome. This
means, to make sure all Canadians with Down syndrome have the right
supports to give them the same opportunities that everyone else
has. Our vision is a proud Canada where ALL are welcome, we embrace
diversity and we value everyone's genes equally.
For further information:
Public Relations Manager, Canadian Down Syndrome Society
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