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News Release

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:
Christy Thompson
Public Relations Manager, Canadian Down Syndrome Society
(403) 669-2832

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