An upcoming Emmerdale storyline this winter will see Laurel (Charlotte Bellamy) and Jai (Chris Bisson) make the difficult decision to end a pregnancy.
After discovering that Laurel is pregnant, the couple will be told at their first scan that the baby has a chromosomal condition, and they decide to have a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) test – a test which determines chromosomal or genetic disorders in foetuses.
The CVS test reveals that the baby has Down’s syndrome, which eventually leads to Laurel and Jai choosing to terminate the pregnancy.
Following this decision, the soap will focus on the “sense of loss, upset and devastation” felt by Laurel and Jai.
According to ITV, the Emmerdale story team felt it was a story that needed to be told, and guidance has been provided by Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC) to ensure this story will be “sensitively told whilst reflecting the reality many couples face”.
Speaking about the storyline, Bellamy, said, “Terminating a pregnancy is an emotive subject, but I think as a programme what Emmerdale does brilliantly is portray difficult stories that are important to tell.
“The statistics tell us that a majority of people faced with similar news resulting from a diagnostic test, do take this decision. So I hope Laurel and Jai’s story will take the audience on the journey of them coming to this conclusion and having some understanding why they do.
“There are some very powerfully written scenes that I hope will give a fair portrayal of their situation. When I embarked on this storyline I was well aware of the responsibility of the subject matter, but the scripts have been so well written and I think the story is told fairly.”
Series producer Laura Shaw added, “Right from the moment the idea was first mooted for this storyline, we knew it was one that if we went ahead with, it had to be fully researched, which involved us speaking to medical professionals, charities and parents with lived experience.
“Listening to women and men telling us their stories, hearing what brought them to make the difficult decision to terminate their pregnancies, cemented for us that this was a topic rarely shown on soap, but a really important one to highlight.
“Translating what we had learnt into Emmerdale scripts led to what was arguably the most challenging and difficult writing our writing team had ever been tasked with. What we have produced and Charlotte and Chris have both brilliantly brought to life, is some of the most heartbreaking and emotional episodes of Emmerdale viewers will have ever seen.”
And Jane Fisher, Director of Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC), commented, “We have over 30 years’ experience of supporting women and their partners through the painful circumstances of ending a wanted pregnancy after a prenatal diagnosis. Thousands of parents go through this every year, but it is rarely spoken about.
“This can lead to bereaved parents feeling very isolated in their grief. We are really pleased that such a popular drama as Emmerdale is tackling this story in such an empathetic and thoughtful way.
“I have been particularly impressed by how they have valued input from us to help make sure it is as true as possible to the complex reality for couples. It won’t make for easy viewing but will do much to break the silence around this sensitive topic.”
For more information and support, visit the ARC homepage.