Emmerdale has left viewers divided as Laurel Thomas struggled with the devastating decision to terminate her pregnancy after learning her unborn baby has Down’s Syndrome.
In moving scenes that aired on Thursday, Laurel faced an inner turmoil after doctors revealed the diagnosis, clashing with friend Rhona after admitting she was considering a termination.
The scenes left viewers split as they took to social media to share their reaction, with some branding Laurel ‘selfish,’ while others praised the soap for accurately portraying the ‘taboo subject.’
Shocking: Emmerdale has divided viewers as Laurel Thomas struggled with the devastating decision to terminate her pregnancy after learning her unborn baby has Down’s Syndrome
In the moving scenes Laurel and Jai returned to the doctors to learn the results of tests to see whether their baby had Down’s Syndrome.
Following the news their baby had the genetic disorder, Laurel and Jai chose to keep the news a secret from her children Arthur, Gabby and Dotty.
While it seemed that Jai wanted to carry on with the pregnancy, Laurel confided in her friend Rhona, whose son Leo was also born with Down’s Syndrome, that she was debating the
Hard: In moving scenes that aired on Thursday, Laurel faced an inner turmoil as she and partner Jai Sharma learned of their baby’s diagnosis
Furious: Laurel’s friend Rhona, whose son Leo has Down’s Syndrome, was furious to learn she was considering a termination, leading to a dramatic clash
Despite admitting she also considered a termination, Rhona was furious to learn Laurel was considering the same fate for her baby insisting Leo was the best thing that had ever happened to her.
Despite Rhona’s insistence she didn’t mean the harsh words, Laurel rushed home, and after Jai pleaded with her to consider going through with the pregnancy, she said she’d think about it.
The scenes left many viewers split as they took to social media to share their reaction, with many praising the soap for accurately portraying such a difficult subject.
Unsure: Later in the show Laurel told Jai she would considering going through with the pregnancy, as it became clear he didn’t want her to have a termination
However others questioned Laurel’s ‘selfish’ decision to terminate her pregnancy against Jai’s wishes.
One posted: ‘Oh god at the scenes with Laurel and Rhona.’
Another added: ‘Laurel, frantic with worry. Jai, not quite understanding her concerns. @itvemmerdale portraying a situation that may ultimately help others who are facing choices.
‘No right or wrong answer and nobody can make that decision for you.’
‘Why people were up in arms over the Laurel and Jai storyline is beyond me, this is a very real dilemma for many woman and couples. It has been superbly acted. Well done,’ a third added.
Important: The scenes left many viewers split as they took to social media to share their reaction, with many praising the soap for accurately portraying such a difficult subject
One tweeted: ‘It’s Laurel’s decision it’s her body. Laurel needs to talk to Jai. Rhona shouldn’t have taken it out on Laurel. It’s not about competition at the end of the day.’
‘I feel so bad for Lauren no one has the right to make someone feel guilty for considering an abortion,’ a viewer posted.
One added: ‘It’s a taboo subject, termination. Though Laurel shouldn’t be made to feel like a monster by Rhona. That’s not right and put a lot of pressure on her.’
An emotional fan posted: ‘Oh Rhona, how could she be so nasty to Laurel! Especially as she would’ve terminated Leo if it hadn’t been for Marlon. Hypocritical.’
Shocking: However others questioned Laurel’s ‘selfish’ decision to terminate her pregnancy against Jai’s wishes
However an upset viewer tweeted: ‘Seems like Laurel has already decided. Had the moment she knew her baby had Downs… so why the heck go to Rhona. I’d be offended if a mate came to me and said: ‘My kid is like your brother, shall I abort it?’
Another posted: ‘Poor Rhona, Jesus what was Laurel thinking by evening trying to have the conversation that boils down to: ”I might want to terminate my pregnancy because the child might be just like yours!” My god.’
‘Yikes – we’ve already got Laurel talking about Downs Syndrome like it’s a fate worse then death. There are ways to tell this story without acting like someone having DS is the equivalent to finding out your baby is terminally ill,’ one wrote.
Issues: Emmerdale has sparked controversy with the storyline as bosses have already confirmed Laurel will go ahead with the termination, already leading to complaints to Ofcom
A saddened fan posted: ‘Lauren went there to feel better about her decision to terminate her baby. That’s why she went to see Rhona. Purely for selfish reasons. Laurel was married to Marlon, she knows Leo.’
‘Don’t like this Laurel Jai and Downs Syndrome storyline… So far its been like its a dirty word, not the way Laurel the Vicars Widow and friend of Rhona I thought would have acted. I know there’s always TWO sides… I don’t like this one,’ a viewer added.
Emmerdale has already sparked controversy with the storyline as bosses have already confirmed Laurel will go ahead with the termination, and the hotly-debated topic has already prompted complaints to media watchdog Ofcom.
Defending the controversial development, series producer Laura Shaw revealed the show had meticulously prepared by working closely with the Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC), medical professionals and those who have been in the same predicament.
Devastating: Defending the controversial development, series producer Laura Shaw revealed the show had prepared by working closely with the Antenatal Results and Choices
She said: ‘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.’
John Whiston, managing director of continuing drama at ITV, has also defended the plot.
‘It is a story exploring a very difficult decision many parents face and their legal right to make that choice with support, rather than judgment, from their family and friends,’ he told the Daily Mail.
However some parents to children with the condition claim the storyline ‘reinforces the stigma and fails to challenge or advance people’s views on Down syndrome’.
Appearing on This Morning, mother-of-two Claire Farrington – whose son has the condition – suggested the ITV Yorkshire-based soap should rethink the plot.
Not happy: Appearing on This Morning, mother-of-two Claire Farrington – whose son has the condition – suggested the ITV Yorkshire-based soap should rethink the plot
She said: ‘I’m not here to talk about a woman’s right to choose, I think it’s fantastic that Emmerdale are covering abortion and termination.
‘It’s just why did they choose Down syndrome and it does just really reinforce the deep seated prejudice which is embedded in society and it reinforces the stigma.
‘Ultimately what parents of children with Down syndrome are feeling is that it says these children are worth less. Now we are trying to live in a world of equality and this storyline unfairly spreads a less perceived value of our children.
‘I think it’s very upsetting for all of us, because none of us in the Down syndrome community are judging the woman’s right to choose, but if Emmerdale were going to cover this why couldn’t they cover a condition that’s incompatible with life.’
Speaking out: Appearing on Lorraine last month, actress Charlotte Bellamy defended the storyline, insisting viewers ‘watch the episodes before making judgement’
Speaking to breakfast show Lorraine in November, actress Charlotte Bellamy – who play Lauren – urged viewers to follow the storyline before forming an opinion.
She said: ‘Of course, it’s going to cause huge debate and it is a highly emotive subject. But I think it’s important to say Emmerdale’ aren’t making judgements. They’re not taking sides.
‘We urge people to watch all of these episodes before making judgement.’
The actress, 47, also reminded fans that Emmerdale child actor Harvey Rogerson, a cast-member since 2014, also has Downs Syndrome yet continues to appear regularly on the show as Leo Goskirk.
‘Emmerdale takes a balanced view,’ she said. ‘We have to remember Leo is a character who has been in the show for 10 years.
‘He is the Down syndrome son of Marlon and Rhona. And that has been such a huge positive story, and continues to be, in our show.
‘Soaps are at their most potent when they deal with very difficult stories. I think it’s really important that soaps don’t shy away from them.’
The Down Syndrome Association told MailOnline in a statement: ‘The DSA can provide balanced and up to date information about Down’s syndrome for anyone in Laurel and Jai’s position.
‘We would encourage anyone in this situation to contact our confidential helpline to talk with our trained staff for non-directive information and support.’
What is a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) test?
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a test you may be offered during pregnancy to check if your baby has a genetic or chromosomal condition, such as Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome.
It involves removing and testing a small sample of cells from the placenta, the organ linking the mother’s blood supply with her unborn baby’s.
CVS is not routinely offered to all pregnant women.
It’s only offered if there’s a high risk your baby could have a genetic or chromosomal condition.
CVS is usually carried out between the 11th and 14th weeks of pregnancy, although it’s sometimes performed later than this if necessary.
The first results of the test should be available within 3 working days and this will tell you if Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome has been discovered.
If rarer conditions are also being tested for, it can take 2 to 3 weeks or more for the results to come back.