Down syndrome diagnosis - new support available

Media Release August 26, 2014

Down syndrome diagnosis - new support available

Dawkins ill-formed comments a reflection of current advice

The recent ill-informed and anti-choice comments by Richard Dawkins, directing prospective parents who have a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome to terminate the pregnancy, are an unfortunate reflection of the attitudes of many medical professionals in Australia. Expectant parents receiving a diagnosis of Down syndrome have traditionally been offered little in the way of relevent, up-to-date, evidence based information and co-ordinated support at this time of heightened emotional vulnerability.

Contempary research shows that the provision of balanced information from a number of sources and sufficient space for deliberation have a critical impact on the wellbeing of families in this situation.

Down Syndrome Australia welcomes technological advances that support improved health outcomes for expectant women and their children. ‘Down Syndrome Australia respects the right of families to make decisions appropriate to their beliefs and circumstances,’ says Catherine McAlpine, CEO Down Syndrome Australia, ‘but we also believe that the current level of care usually experienced by prospective parents does not meet this standard of balanced information and sufficient space for decision making.’

Down Syndrome Australia is pleased to address this issue with the launch today of two support resources;

  • Prenatal fact sheetDown Syndrome Australia pre and post natal information line 1300 881 935. This national 1300 number will connect callers to their local state or territory Down syndrome support organisation to enable access to non-directive information, to ask questions and to speak to, or arrange to speak to, a parent of a child with Down syndrome.
  • Prenatal testing for Down syndrome fact sheet. This fact sheet contains easy-to-understand, factual and balanced information for people considering prenatal testing or if a test shows that a baby may have or does have Down syndrome. 

Down Syndrome Australia recommends that whenever prenatal testing is provided in Australia, good quality information and time for prospective parents to deliberate are also included to ensure best practice. Current, up-to-date and balanced information on Down syndrome, examples of lived experiences and links to other non-directive resources and avenues for support can be found on our resources page

The production of these resources was assisted by a grant from the federal Department of Health.



Catherine McAlpine

CEO, Down Syndrome Australia

0419 530 524


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