People are going to have “strong views” about an Emmerdale storyline about a couple’s decision to abort their child following a pre-natal diagnosis, according to a producer of the soap.
Laurel Thomas, played by Charlotte Bellamy, and her on-screen partner Jai Sharma, played by Chris Bisson, will learn that their unborn baby has Down’s syndrome before deciding to terminate the pregnancy.
Producer Laura Shaw said she is “sure as we do with all story lines, we will get some mixed reactions”.
“I’m well aware it’s a hugely emotive subject but I do honestly think that once everyone has watched the episodes play out, they are going to come away with a huge sympathy for what an impossibly difficult choice these couples face,” she said.
“What you will see from Jai and Laurel’s story is how that decision will go on to affect their lives for years to come.”
Shaw added: “People are going to have some really strong views but I guess that’s what makes it such an important story to tell.”
She said the story is not about “right or wrong” but instead is about “people taking really, really difficult decisions and that they should be allowed to do that without living in fear of being judged or shamed”.
The storyline will air on the ITV soap over the winter.
Jane Fisher, director of the Antenatal Results & Choices charity, which offers advice about antenatal screening, said she hoped the plot would encourage people not to think about abortion as a taboo subject.
“I think it’s really important that people can speak about it, it’s not that they must because for many people this is a very personal and painful and private experience and that’s fine, they may not want to talk about it,” she said.
“But they need to know that they can and I think at the moment we are in a situation where many people feel very reticent to talk about what’s happened to them.”