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Urge governments to exclude systematic screening to enable selection for Down syndrome from public health programs.

This petition had 16 supporters


People with Down syndrome and their relatives express an above average appreciation for life. While prenatal screening may be offered to prepare parents, in most cases a diagnosis of Down syndrome is followed by termination. A radical decision based on, often outdated and negative, predictions. It underestimates inclusion, education, love and other factors in a child’s development. To deprive a child's future on the basis of a stereotype is discrimination. Discrimination has no place in nations’ health programs.

Prenatal testing for Down syndrome has grown into a profitable but unethical business. In 2006, Denmark was the first European country to introduce routine screening for Down syndrome into public healthcare. Other countries soon followed. Children born with Down syndrome have become a rarity in Denmark. A new test is set to further promote prenatal selection. The Non Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT) allows for accurate results in establishing genetic deviations early in pregnancy, simply by testing the mother’s blood.

Countries worldwide are now considering to introduce the NIPT standard into their health programs. Research indicates that introducing the NIPT leads to a higher uptake of prenatal screening for Down syndrome. This will promote de-selection of fetuses with Down syndrome and reinforce the negative bias against people with Down syndrome that exists in our society.

We, the undersigned, are alarmed by the ongoing discrimination of people with Down syndrome by governments. We hereby call upon the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to urge governments:

  • To exclude systematic screening to enable selection for Down syndrome from public health programs.
  • To regulate the introduction of prenatal genetic testing, based on the principles defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • To promote the use of genetic testing solely to enhance health and human well-being, not to discriminate against people based on their genetics.


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