A DOWN syndrome charity founder is set for a Westminster protest in response to a screening programme which campaigners say could lead to "informal eugenics".
Mother-of-three Maggie Hart will represent the North-East as she joins members of the Don't Screen Us Out campaign to speak at the demonstration in London calling on the Government to re-think proposals to implement the screening.
They claim the non-invasive pre-natal testing could result in a profound reduction in the number of births of babies with Down syndrome.
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Although not against the testing herself, Mrs Hart is determined to raise awareness of the value of all life using her own experience as a mother of a child with the condition.
"No life is more precious than the other," said the 43-year-old, who founded the Education Centre for children with Down syndrome (ECCDS). "There is an assumption that Down syndrome could be eradicated - a scary thought to think where this will end."
According to a study by the National Institute for Health and Research RAPID, 90 per cent of parents with a Down syndrome diagnosis terminate the pregnancy.
Campaigners believe a number of these are as a result of a lack of balanced information given to parents.
"Part of this is to ask the Government to look again at the ethics and legal implications regarding new scientific developments," added Mrs Hart. "The Government should be putting more of an effort into supporting people with Down syndrome and their families and ensuring the provision of balanced information for parents with a pregnancy diagnosis of Down syndrome.
"Some members of the campaign have expressed concerns about their experience with pre-natal screening where there was an alarming approach that is not true for people with Down syndrome."
Mrs Hart, of Middleton St George, near Darlington, founded ECCDS in 2005 after giving birth the previous year to her son Alex, who has Down syndrome.
Mrs Hart will speak at the demonstration on Monday (April 18).
The Department of Health is deciding on whether to follow the recommendation from the National Screening Committee to implement the programme which it believes will reduce the number of miscarriages that occur as a result of invasive testing.