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Emmerdale Criticised By Down’s Syndrome Rights Campaigners For Laurel And Jai’s Emotional New Story

November 9, 2020

Emmerdale has been criticised by Down’s syndrome rights campaigners after announcing a devastating new storyline for Laurel Thomas and Jai Sharma.

The ITV soap confirmed last week that the couple will discover this winter that they are expecting a baby and after a scan prompts them to have a CVS (chorionic villus sampling), they will find out that their child will be born with Down’s syndrome.

The couple will have some incredibly difficult conversations about whether to go ahead with the pregnancy and they eventually decide to have a termination, with the soap set to explore the sense of loss the couple feel afterwards.

Emmerdale has worked with Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC) on the storyline, with Laurel actress Charlotte Bellamy saying that “the scripts have been so well written” and adding that she feels “the story is told fairly”.

Series producer Laura Shaw explained that the story has been “arguably the most challenging and difficult writing our writing team had ever been tasked with”.

Since the story was announced, the soap has received criticism from Down’s syndrome rights campaigners, with a petition on Change.org calling for producers to drop the storyline attracting more than 15,000 signatures to date.

The petition starter writes that they are “shaken” that “a popular TV show watched by millions has sought to perpetuate the antiquated stereotyping, embedded and, often unconscious, prejudice combined with misleading information about Down’s Syndrome that is endemic in our society”. Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Model Kate Grant, who has Down’s syndrome, has also criticised the story, telling The Belfast Telegraph: “I love life and life loves me and this is my right, a right that I have because my parents made the decision that I was enough, that I mattered and I do.

“All people with Down’s syndrome matter and have a right to life. Please don’t show the world any different. I am Kate Grant and I am a model – Down’s syndrome doesn’t define me.”

Responding to the criticism of Laurel and Jai’s storyline, Emmerdale told Digital Spy in a statement that “the full context” of the issue will be explored.

“Viewers who watch Emmerdale will know Rhona and Marlon have a much loved son, Leo. Leo has Down’s syndrome and for the last nine years he’s been on screen portraying a happy, fun-loving boy who is very much wanted and cared for by his parents and family,” the statement says.

“After much consideration and extensive research, Emmerdale decided to tell the story of Laurel and Jai and their choice to terminate their pregnancy.

“The full context of Laurel and Jai’s story will be portrayed in detail in forthcoming episodes, because understandably the couple only reach this heart-breaking decision after much soul-searching. Emmerdale felt the story of thousands of couples who make this choice every year, feeling unable to talk about it, needed to be told.”

Emmerdale previously explored having a child with Down’s syndrome when Marlon Dingle (Mark Charnock) and Rhona Goskirk’s (Zoe Henry) son Leo (Harvey Rogerson), who is still in the soap, was born in 2011.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark Taha permalink
    November 9, 2020 4:38 pm

    Some parents would abort, some wouldn’t. Let’s keep calm.and remember that THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE!

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