|Sally Phillips addresses 4000 at the Royal College of Gynaecologists World Congress 2019|
Sally Phillips is one incredible woman who has endured more than her fair share of front row hecklers, not just as a comedy actor, but also when she created the brave and thought-provoking BBC Documentary A World Without Down's with film maker Clare Elizabeth Richards. It got everyone talking about the thorny topic of screening. And more crucially the even pricklier topic of 'screening out' babies with Down's syndrome.
"The right words at the right time
to the right people"3 years on and Sally's film afforded her the opportunity to speak to 4000 obstetricians and gynaeclogists from all across the globe. I am proud to be able to share the transcript below.
Last week Sally, remained modest about her seminal talk, which left her exhausted in the days that followed as she dealt with the far-reaching ripples of the effect of her words. "I was simply able to use the right words at the right time and to the right people" she said, "I'm just a canary reporting back from the mine".
But for me, Sally's talk has torn the charming mask from the face of the NIPT industry.
And as anyone who has ever been gaslit by an abusive partner will tell you, it's frustrating, confusing, exhausting and unsettling to have your reality constantly questioned, altered and dismissed.
"I am the canary reporting back
from the mine"It's harrowing to have your deeply felt emotions diminished and discounted. Simultaneously the flames fuelling your darkest fears are fanned, while the fears themselves are flatly denied. And for our community this is akin to what has been happening since the NIPT test came out.
Our voices were brushed off as being 'too emotional' or 'simply anecdotal', as if having Down's syndrome or living with a loved one who does is not empirical enough to be evidence.
We were told there was no evidence that Down's syndrome births would drop, that we'd all have to wait and see, that we were 'banging on about nothing'. But of course we were right. And they knew we were right.
Our concerns were lumped together with pro-life views and sold as denying pregnant women choice when many of are crying out for better, more informed choices for women. We were told that sharing stories of our happy lives online was wrong, immoral even, because it put prospective parents under undo pressure.
With Sally's permission I am very honoured to be able to share with you the perfectly crafted talk she delivered that day, the one that left medics in tears and those who spoke after her lost for words.
"A kick up the moral and ethical arse
of the screening fraternity"