Emmerdale hit by Ofcom complaints over controversial Down's Syndrome abortion storyline

EMMERDALE has been hit with 182 more complaints over its Down's Syndrome storyline after an episode last month, The Sun Online can exclusively reveal.

Ofcom confirmed to The Sun that the objections had been received over the plot, which sees Lauren and Jai fall pregnant but decide to end the pregnancy.

The latest figures come a week after we reported that hundreds of furious viewers complained to the TV watchdog as the ITV soap's controversial Down's Syndrome abortion storyline kicked off.

On Monday's episode, Laurel and Jai were left devastated when a doctor told them their unborn child could have a genetic condition after a scan showed irregularities with the foetus.

Laurel was quick to enquire about abortion, with the upsetting scenes initially sparking 265 official complaints to the TV watchdog.

The controversial storyline gathered significant backlash as soon as it was revealed, with groups and organisations supporting those with Down's speaking out – as well as parents of children with the disorder.

More than 30,000 people signed a petition that demanded the plot was axed, but Emmerdale bosses have insisted that they won't be doing this.

One mum, Rachel Mewes, slammed the soap as "disgusting" and "irresponsible" as she said it adds to the stigma her three-year-old daughter Betsy faces as a child with Down's Syndrome.

She said: "Promoting abortion of babies with Down's syndrome through this storyline is absolutely disgusting.

"It violates the human rights of people with the condition, and their families, who should not be expected to have to put up with such prejudice in mainstream media.

"It suggests that themselves or their child would be better off dead. TV shows are big influencers in our society and that comes with responsibility."

Producers of the series said they consulted with "medical professionals, charities and parents with lived experience", but Rachel is adamant this was directed at those who have terminated pregnancies and not families with the syndrome itself.

The soap also came under fire by disability campaigner Adam Pearson, who called the storyline "cliched", highlighting that disability is still portrayed as a "death sentence", even in 2020.

An ITV spokesperson previously told The Sun: "Viewers who watch Emmerdale will know Rhona and Marlon have a much loved son, Leo."

Last month, Laura Shaw, the series producer for the soap, said the storyline had been thoroughly researched in collaboration with Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC), medical professionals and people with lived experience.

She shared: "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.

"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."

The show runner admitted that she knew the storyline would be "contentious" but insisted that was what made it "such an important story to tell".

She continued: "I'm sure we'll get some mixed reactions, I'm well aware that it's a hugely emotive subject.

"But I do honestly think that once everyone has watched the episodes play out, they're going to feel huge sympathy for what an impossible and difficult choice these couples face, and an understanding.

"And what you'll see through Jai and Laurel's story is how that decision goes on to affect their lives for years to come."

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