Pregnant MP hails proposed law change on free NHS Down’s syndrome testing
- Credit: Vickie Flores
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq has welcomed a recommendation that a safe test for Down’s syndrome should be made available on the NHS for women believed to be at higher risk of having a baby with the condition.
The MP, who expects her first child in April, told Parliament that she had been forced to go private for a non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT) after she was told she was in the higher-risk category.
Ms Siddiq had called for NIPTS to be freely available, saying it was unfair that those without the means to pay for the £400 test had to undergo the free amniocentesis test instead, which carries a risk of miscarriage of about one in 100.
The NIPT is already available with two NHS trusts, but the National Screening Committee has now said it should be made available to all women who carry a greater than one in 150 risk of having a baby born with Down’s.
Ms Siddiq said: “It is my belief that we should have an NHS in which medical advances to be made as widely accessible as possible.
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“This is especially the case for procedures that inform decisions and potentially affect quality of life over many decades.
“Preparation is vital when bringing a new person into our world and I am therefore pleased that my various representations to the Department of Health may have raised awareness of this issue within Parliament.”
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Some individuals and disabled rights groups are not wholly in favour of such testing, however, as they believe it encourages the idea that all foetuses with disabilities should be aborted.
The Down’s Syndrome Association, a nationwide support group which has which has branches in Camden and in Haringey, maintains a stance of neutrality on prenatal testing.
They said: “The Down’s Syndrome Association acknowledges that the offer of prenatal testing for Down’s syndrome is a routine part of antenatal care.
“We expect respect and support for parents making choices about antenatal tests and their outcomes – whatever they decide to do.
“Before and during testing, easily understood and up-to-date information must be provided in an unbiased way by well trained professionals.”