Shortland Street’s Down syndrome storyline inappropriate and offensive

A suggestion to abort a Down syndrome pregnancy in the popular New Zealand television soap opera Shortland Street has drawn fire from The Down Syndrome Association.

They say they weren’t consulted about the storyline which is described as reflecting outdated thinking and failing to represent an inclusive society.

Association spokesperson Kim Porthouse said the organisation has received calls from a number of families and people with Down syndrome who have been upset by the episodes.

She said people who are either going through this process right now, people with Down syndrome who watched the programme, parents of children with Down syndrome are finding this aggressive forceful reaction quite inappropriate and offensive.

Porthouse said the storyline “reinforces a lot of the prejudice that having a child with Down syndrome is a burden.”

In the storyline, after learning  a baby might have Down syndrome father Chris Warner suggested to mother, Zoe, that she abort the pregnancy

Several characters discuss Zoe’s options with her.

Her Sister Kate advocates for Zoe making her own choices.

Finn, Warner’s adult son also stresses the choice is hers and that she will have support no matter what options she chooses.

But he points out “there’s thousands of stories out there, mums and dads who have been exactly where you are and they’ve kept their baby.”

In a joint statement, TVNZ and South Pacific Pictures said they acknowledge the storyline addresses a sensitive topic but Shortland Street is known for tackling a range of challenging issues that New Zealanders face.

“The show’s producers work closely with medical advisors to ensure health storylines are depicted with care in the context of a drama”


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News category: New Zealand, News Shorts.

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