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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Nobody's perfect, so why can't we embrace certain imperfections?

A BBC documentary by actress Sally Phillips explored prenatal testing for Down syndrome, says Sarah Caden, and asked where such screening might end

Sarah Caden

Published 09/10/2016 | 02:30

Sally Phillips in A World Without Down’s Syndrome. The documentary questions what kind of society we want to live in. Photo: BBC
Sally Phillips in A World Without Down’s Syndrome. The documentary questions what kind of society we want to live in. Photo: BBC

Last Wednesday, I expected to be moved by actress Sally Phillips's documentary, A World Without Down's Syndrome. I have a child with Down syndrome, so I knew that a film about whether prenatal screening for it will lead to 'elimination' of it was going to be emotional. Because, I thought in advance, it's going to be, to some extent, about my life.

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I expected Phillips, a comedic actress known to us from I'm Alan Partridge and Bridget Jones to be angry, too, on behalf of the child with DS in her life, her son, Olly.

I expected it to be a film making a point to us, the people already part of the DS community, the ones already embedded in it. Instead, though, it was about all of us. It wasn't just about DS. Or termination. It wasn't just about a celebrity selling us DS as acceptable and loveable. It was about who we are as a society and who we want to be and who we want to be around us. And I was even more angry at the end of it than I could possibly have anticipated.

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