Removing discrimination: one small step at a time

One of the biggest challenges that many disabled people face is negative attitudes towards them, and assumptions made by others that their lives are not worth living, which can lead to systematic discrimination.

Antenatal screening programmes, such as the national screening programme for Down syndrome are controversial, because if they are not carried out appropriately, they contribute to reinforcing negative attitudes towards disabled. All too often, instead of being supported to care for a child with a disability , parents face structural pressure to terminate their pregnancy, which sends a strong message to children and adults with Downs and other children with disabilities that they are not valued.

The Green Party strongly believes that parents must be given full support to continue their pregnancy if that is their choice, and that this attitude needs to be reflected by the public health service.

That is why we are thrilled by the new guidelines that have been formally issued by the National Screening Unit, which have made a number of important changes, including a move away from theroutine offering of screening to all pregnant women to simply advising them of the availability of screening.

I congratulate Saving Downs who have worked hard for this outcome and took a successful case to the Human rights Commission.

5 Comments Posted

  1. This change in policy still allows the right to choose in fact the way I see it the parents now have more freedom to choose. They can now choose not to choose.
    Routine testing takes as faitaccompli that the big decision is whether to keep or abort the ‘problem.’ But there is decision which happens further back in the whole glorious chain of events that produces life. This big decision is whether you want to know or whether you want to trust. And all parents should be given the space by the medical profession to make this decision first. There needs to be an understanding in the medical community that it’s okay to not know and to trust. With routine testing a pregnancy/child with downs is portrayed as needing to be choosen. When testing is presented as optional there’s a sense that the medical community believe this the pregnancy/child will be welcome in the world. And to know that you are welcomed into the world is essential for us ALL.

  2. I don’t get the point of this.

    “Right to choose” is a scared-cow policy of the Green Party.

    Reproductive Health
    Improve access to family planning and sexual health services to all women in New Zealand, in particular young women, Maori and Pacific women and rural women.
    Review abortion services to ensure equity of access for women throughout New Zealand.

    I note the following Key Principles are far from subtle:

    New Zealand’s population should not exceed the ecological carrying capacity of the country.

    A stable population is desirable to minimise negative impacts on infrastructure and resources.

    Seek to reduce New Zealand’s per capita ecological footprint by supporting practices that curb unnecessary production and consumption.

    Ensure that all potential and existing parents have full and free access to family planning services so that informed decisions about the number and spacing of children can be made by the parents concerned.

    With the above in mind, it is unclear why the sudden change of position? What makes a disabled unborn child any more (or less) worthy of life then a not-disabled one?

  3. “parents face structural pressure to terminate their pregnancy”

    Can you be a little less oblique?

    If you support the full right of individuals to control their fertility, then if those parents decide that the financial, temporal and emotional cost of raising a disabled child are not ones they wish to bear, and decide to terminate, then it really is none of your business.

    Nor is it appropriate for you to seek to force everyone else to pay to offset those.

  4. I think the answer is more accurate information about what it is like to have a child with Down syndrome (not all that bad, perhaps?), rather than less information about pregnant peoples foetus.

    Discrimination thrives on ignorance. More ignorance cannot be used as a weapon against it.

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