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MP calls for block on new Down’s syndrome test

25 May 2016


Nigel Evans is calling on the government to delay a controversial new pre-natal test for Down's syndrome

Nigel Evans MP has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling on the government to delay implementation of a new pre-natal screening test for Down's syndrome.

Mr Evans' EDM also encourages MPs to join with the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign, which for months has been rallying opposition to the proposed new test. Advocates for Down’s syndrome rights believe the test would lead to an additional 92 abortions on unborn children with Down’s each year.

As SPUC reported at the time, Mr Evans previously drew attention to the issue when he put David Cameron on the spot during Prime Minister’s Questions three weeks ago.

NIPT

Now the MP for Ribble Valley is pushing for the government to delay introducing the new test, at least until reforms have been carried out to tackle biased and inadequate information that points the vast majority of couples receiving a pre-natal diagnosis of Down’s syndrome straight to abortion.

The new test would use non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) – also known as cell-free DNA testing – to screen a pregnant mother's blood for tiny fragments of DNA. These fragments are then checked for genetic abnormalities like Down's syndrome towards the end of the first trimester of pregnancy (between 11 and 14 weeks).

Violation of UN Convention

Early Day Motion 44, which Mr Evans tabled on Thursday, strongly criticises the "current lack of non-directional medial support and balanced information for parents whose child is diagnosed with foetal disability."

The EDM also points out that implementing the new test now would leave the UK's Foetal Anomaly Screening Programme (FASP) in violation of their treaty obligations to the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Article 23, Section 3 of the convention calls for "early and comprehensive support for children with Down's and their families", something Mr Evans believes the UK currently lacks.

MPs' support

As such, he is calling on the government to ensure the FASP is fully compliant with the convention and other relevant disability rights standards.

At the time of writing, EDM 44 has been signed by 13 MPs: Fiona Bruce (Con, Congleton); Jim Cunningham (Lab, Coventry South); Martin Docherty (SNP, West Dunbartonshire); Mark Durkan (SDLP, Foyle); Nigel Evans (Con, Ribble Valley); Robert Flello (Lab, Stoke-on-Trent South); Alan Meale (Lab, Mansfield); Paul Monaghan (SNP, Caithness Sutherland and Easter Ross); Margaret Ritchie (SDLP, South Down); Gavin Robinson (DUP, Belfast East); Jim Shannon (DUP, Strangford); Keith Vaz (Lab, Leicester East); and David Warburton (Con, Somerton and Frome).

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