One of our Members recently attending a demonstration at the Houses of Parliament and I thought it would be really interesting to get her account of what happened:
“I got the train up to London on a freezing cold morning. I had on my yellow jumper as we had all been asked to wear something yellow to reinforce the Down’s Syndrome awareness colours of blue and yellow for the day. It was a very long time since I had been on a demonstration and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.
I got to the Houses of Parliament and was met by a large crowd of people all there for the “Don’t Screen Us Out Parliament Demonstration”. There were parents, grandparents and siblings of children with Down’s Syndrome, all there as well as several people with Down’s Syndrome. We had a variety of banners, balloons and flyers and made our presence known in front of Parliament for two hours. We got lots of attention from passers by, tourists and people going in and out of the Houses of Parliament as we chanted “Don’t screen us out”.
So why were we there? We wanted to send a message to Jeremy Hunt and the government that:
1. Proposals to introduce a new pre-natal screening test that is projected to lead to a profound reduction in birth numbers of people with Down’s Syndrome are highly concerning.
2. People with Down’s syndrome should be valued in our society.
3. The Government should be putting much more effort into supporting people with Down’s syndrome and their families, and ensuring the provision of balanced information for parents with a pregnancy diagnosis of Down’s syndrome.
Various people also spoke. First of all Sally Phillips (from Bridget Jones / Smack the Pony / Miranda fame) spoke to us over the phone from Pinewood Studios. Then someone from the Downs Syndrome Research Foundation and Saving Down Syndrome UK, and Lord Shinkwin who sits in the House of Lords and focuses on disability equality issues. Finally Heidi, a young lady with Down’s Syndrome who gave a fantastic speech!
I then had to leave but the group continued to the Department of Health, and to the Palace of Westminster to meet with MPs. This was the beginning of a crucial campaign for the equality of everyone regardless of ability.
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