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UK News

Line of Duty actor with Down's syndrome backs new Down's syndrome parliamentary group at Westminster

by Cara Bentley

BBC's Line of Duty actor Tommy Jessop is backing the launch of a group of MPs and Peers on Down's syndrome, saying: "we are the only group of people in the UK where people try to end our lives before we are born."

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) is being led by Christian SNP MP Dr Lisa Cameron and Labour MP Matt Western and will include members from different political parties who share a concern about the treatment of people with Down's syndrome (DS). There hasn't been an APPG on the condition since 2015 and the group will also raise issues that affect families and carers. 

Down's syndrome is a condition which around 40,000 people in the UK have, caused by having an extra chromosome. It results in a learning disability but most people can attend mainstream school and live to an age of 50-60. 

People are being encouraged to write to their MP to request their attendance to the group as well. 

The parliamentarians will raise issues such as premature death, associated health conditions and maternity care. One topic close to many families' hearts is the law on abortion in cases of DS. 

In the UK, if DS is detected before birth, the pregnancy can be aborted up to the full-term, whereas it is illegal to do so after 24 weeks for babies without the condition. 

Campaigner Heidi Crowther, who also has DS, is also supporting the group, as she heads to a High Court battle on 6th July to argue that the current law is discriminatory. 

Heidi Crowter, PA

Fellow supporter and Line of Duty actor Tommy Jessop said: "I want to see people with Down's syndrome treated equally with others before and after they are born. We are the only group of people in the UK where people try to end our lives before we are born just because we have Down's syndrome. This is not fair. It scars our lives and causes mental health problems.

"I welcome the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Down's Syndrome. I hope this will raise awareness of people living with Down's syndrome and who we really are so that we really do have a voice to speak up for ourselves and other people".

APPG members will be supported by the Down's Syndrome Policy Group, comprised of many DS charities and trustees with the condition. 

Conservative MP Elliot Coburn, the group's co-chair, said: "People with Down's syndrome deserve a strong voice in Parliament to stand up for them and their families, and to press for greater support to help with the child's development and for the family".

Government Minister Caroline Dinenage said: "I'm so delighted to support the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Down's Syndrome. I am all in favour of action to ensure people with Down's syndrome lead healthy, active and independent lives - that their talents are recognised and their voices heard".

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