Leona Lewis: Abortion of Down Syndrome Babies ‘Hurts My Heart’

By Lauretta Brown | May 9, 2014 | 10:47am EDT

Singer Leona Lewis. (AP)

(Editor's Note: Following publication of this article, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation advised that a 2012 report in Prenatal Diagnosis, based on a review of studies from 1995-2011, concluded that the abortion rate of Down Syndrome babies is between 67%-85%, lower than the 92% rate reported from a 1999 study-review. See report and conclusions here.)

(CNSNews.com) – Upon learning that 90% of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted, singer/songwriter Leona Lewis said it was “incredibly sad” and “hurts my heart a bit.”

Lewis, a Brit who shot to fame and a successful musical career after winning the X Factor in 2006, made her remarks on Wednesday at the Global Down Syndrome Foundation Gala at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

At the event, CNSNews.com asked Lewis,  “What do you think of the statistic that nine out of ten babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted?”

Lewis said, “I think that’s so sad. I think that’s incredibly, incredibly sad and, yeah, it hurts my heart a bit.”

The high rate of abortion after a diagnosis of Down Syndrome was reported in the New York Times as early as 2007 and has been confirmed by several different studies.

“About 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion,” reported The Times.

In addition, a 1999 study by the Psychology and Genetics Research Group at King's College in London concluded that, following a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome, 92% of women chose to have an abortion.

Also, a 1998 study by Wayne State University examined 145 cases of pregnancy in which Down Syndrome was diagnosed and found that 86.9% of women chose to terminate their pregnancies.

Children with Down syndrome are learning more today than ever before thanks to developmental research, according to Down Syndrome Education International. (Photo: DSE International)

Furthermore, as CNSNews.com reported in 2008, “with the widespread availability of pre-natal genetic testing, as many as 90 percent of women whose babies were pre-natally diagnosed with the genetic condition chose to abort the child.”

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s “Be Beautiful, Be Yourself D.C. Gala” was held to raise awareness and funds for the many Americans living with Down Syndrome.

The Gala featured a fashion show with more than nineteen models who have Down Syndrome; presentation of the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award to Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS); and a fundraising auction. Leona Lewis concluded the evening with a live concert.

Michelle Sie Whitten, executive director and co-founder of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, mentioned the high percentage Down Syndrome abortions in recounting her own experience after getting a prenatal diagnosis of Downs.

“The genetic counselor came in and gave me a tissue and said, ‘Don’t cry, Mrs. Whitten.  You know, 80 to 90% of people terminate and you can too.’ And that was my genetic counseling,” Whitten said in her opening remarks at the Gala.

“The feeling of discrimination emanating from the medical professionals in that office, the inaccurate information they gave me (the life span of a person with Down syndrome was not 3 but 55 [years]) and then learning about the lack of funding for medical care and research for Down Syndrome, set me and my family on a path towards establishing the Global Down Syndrome Foundation,” said Whitten.

According to the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, “Down syndrome is the most frequent chromosomal condition, affecting an estimated 400,000 Americans, but is the least-funded genetic condition by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), securing an infinitesimal portion of NIH’s annual budget. Global is focused on raising funds to support research, educating the public about the discrepancy in research funding, and showcasing the abilities of those with Down syndrome.”

When CNSNews.com asked Lewis why she was supporting the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, she said she planned to sing at the event and, “when I found out about the Foundation and all the work that they’ve been doing, I was just very inspired and I wanted to come along in support.”

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