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Emmerdale has reportedly been hit by 182 more Ofcom complaints after horrified viewers slammed the Down's Syndrome abortion storyline.
The popular ITV soap opera has seen characters Laurel Thomas, played by Charlotte Bellamy, and Jai Sharma, played by Chris Bisson, fall pregnant before deciding to terminate the pregnancy after finding out he or she could have Down's Syndrome – which means the baby would be born with an extra chromosome and would have some level of a learning disability.
In one episode, Laurel, whose actress Charlotte recently defended the decision to air the story, was quick to enquire about abortion, which initially sparked 265 Ofcom complaints.
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Hundreds of viewers also flocked to Twitter to speak out against the plot as one person wrote: "Emmerdale having a storyline where the couple decide to have an abortion after learning that the baby has Down syndrome is genuinely hideous". [sic]
"It is not heartbreaking to have a child with down syndrome. A still born baby, a baby with health issues that you can't control, but not DS. It's not an illness! DS should not be shown as a reason for abortion!" [sic] another argued.
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A third added: "Imagine you have Down’s. Imagine seeing this storyline. Imagine your very existing being thought so abhorrent that it’s better to abort. They could’ve absolutely done a different less offensive and ableist abortion storyline and still reflected women’s difficult choices."
According to The Sun, over 30,000 people have also signed a petition that demanded the entire storyline was axed. However, Emmerdale bosses said they would go ahead nonetheless.
Producers of the show allegedly told the publication that they consulted with "medical professionals, charities and parents with lived experience".
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And last month, series producer Laura Shaw further insisted that the plot had been researched in collaboration with Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC), medical professionals and people with lived experience.
"We're confident that what we've produced has been done in a really balanced and sensitive way. We haven't gone into this blindly, we've spoken to as many people as we possibly can," she said.
Laura added: "We've got the research, this is based on real life, and I think people will see that. You're going to feel uncomfortable at times watching it, but I hope that people will then, as they watch it, understand why we've done it."
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