Emmerdale producer defends controversial Down's syndrome abortion storyline

A producer at Emmerdale has defended a controversial forthcoming storyline which sees a couple come to the difficult decision to abort their child following a pre-natal diagnosis.

Laurel Thomas, played by Charlotte Bellamy, and her on-screen partner Jai Sharma, played by Chris Bisson, will learn that their unborn baby has Down's syndrome before deciding to terminate the pregnancy.

The ITV soap's producer Laura Shaw has said people are going to have "strong views" about the plot line, adding she is "sure as we do with all story lines, we will get some mixed reactions".

"I'm well aware it's a hugely emotive subject but I do honestly think that once everyone has watched the episodes play out, they are going to come away with a huge sympathy for what an impossibly difficult choice these couples face."

"What you will see from Jai and Laurel's story is how that decision will go on to affect their lives for years to come."

She said the story is not about "right or wrong" but instead is about "people taking really, really difficult decisions and that they should be allowed to do that without living in fear of being judged or shamed".

  • Gaynor Barnes speaks to Gillian Bowlas, from Downright Special. Gaynor started by asking whether Emmerdale's abortion storyline sends out the wrong message.

Gillian Bowlas, from Hull-based charity Downright Special told ITV News Calendar that the storyline reinforces a "negative stereotype that having Down's syndrome is a bad thing."

She added that as far as she is aware, bosses at the soap failed to discuss what life is like for those people living with Down's syndrome, or speak to anyone with Down's syndrome.

The storyline will air on the ITV soap over the winter.