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Valuing people with Down's Syndrome on Church of England's General Synod agenda

Fri 19 Jan 2018
By Cara Bentley

The Church of England has released the agenda for what leaders will discuss at a meeting of its governing body, General Synod, in February.

Among the topics to be discussed are valuing people with Down's Syndrome, recognising Methodist Presbyters as ordained clergy in the Church of England, safeguarding, preparing for the inquiry into historic sexual abuse and relations with the wider Anglican community.

A motion affirming the dignity and humanity of people with Down's syndrome will be discussed, just as a new form of pre-natal screening comes into practice in the NHS, able to identify when a pregnant woman may give birth to a baby with Down's Syndrome.

The screening means doctors will be able to tell a mother if there is a "high risk" her baby will be affected by the condition, knowledge which the Church welcomes, if it makes the mother more informed.

However, leaders want parents to be aware that the lives of people living with Down's Syndrome has considerably improved in recent decades and cited the Christian comedian Sally Philips' documentary 'A World Without Down's Syndrome?' where she highlighted ignorance surrounding the condition.

The Church of England said mothers who ask for this screening must be given results in a neutral fashion, such as not saying: "I'm sorry, I've got bad news for you" or leading them on a path towards termination, without providing full information about life with a child with Down's Syndrome.

Also to be discussed at the General Synod, will be the use of digital evangelism in the Church's Easter and Christmas campaigns on social media - and how to build on that progress - as well as discussing food waste.

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