Parents of children with Down syndrome don't want community targeted in abortion law reform

A New Zealand mother whose son has Down syndrome fears the world would be a lesser place without the condition.

Pip Smyth's comments come after a group called Downright Discrimination launched a campaign because they don't want the Down syndrome community to be targeted with the new abortion law reform.

The group doesn't want the new law to introduce abortion up-to-birth for babies with Down syndrome. The law reform will only allow a person who is more than 20 weeks pregnant to have an abortion if a health practitioner believes it's appropriate in the circumstances.

When Smyth's son Oscar was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth, she told The Project that "the colour came out of life" for her.

"Soon after I had been told he had Down syndrome I was confronted with the black and white pamphlet that says intellectual disability, heart problems, hearing problems. It's not the greatest list.

She says she was "devastated" and thought she had ruined her family's life.

"Will we be able to do the things that every family loves? Will he live by himself? Will he have friends? Will he be able to talk to me?"

But after she saw her son for the first time she says the colour came back into her life.

In New Zealand, pregnancy scans give a probability of a baby having Down syndrome, but it's only about 80 percent accurate.

Many women whose babies test positive will terminate the pregnancy. In the United Kingdom where a more accurate blood test is administered, nine out of 10 people terminate. And in Iceland, it's close to 100 percent.

Smyth worries that as more people opt for the more effective blood test, there could soon be no one with Down syndrome left.

"I think society struggles with 'different', and that we're all meant to do certain things in our life and that ticks off the success box. My little Oscar is just bringing love into this world - well that's pretty successful."

She believes it's a "slippery slope" when people can pick and determine exactly what kind of baby they want.

"Most of the time it comes out of a good place because we just want the best for our kids, but where does 'the best' end? Are we wanting a certain IQ, are we wanting a certain look," Smyth says.

Smyth is now making her own pamphlet for parents whose baby tests positive for Down syndrome during their screening and who may be considering termination.

Next to the medical facts there will be another message.

"It doesn’t mean that because he has Down syndrome that he is of less value to this world, we'll just celebrate his strengths and achievements."