Emmerdale began Laurel and Jai’s new pregnancy storyline in tonight’s episodes (Thursday, November 26).
But after the soap announced the abortion storyline earlier this month, it has received backlash from viewers and fans.
Emmerdale: What is Laurel’s new storyline?
Earlier this month, Emmerdale revealed that they would be airing a new storyline. This will see Laurel discover she is pregnant with Jai’s baby.
And in tonight’s episode the couple were shocked when Laurel took a pregnancy test and it came out positive.
However in future episodes, the couple will attend a scan. But it soon becomes apparent all is not as it should be.
After heartfelt and tearful conversations, the couple decide to have a CVS (Chorionic Villus Sampling) test. The results tell them the baby has Down’s Syndrome.
Forthcoming scenes will depict the couple having some very deep, emotional conversations. However they will make the sad decision not to proceed with the pregnancy.
Emmerdale: Sally Phillips slams soap
After the news of this storyline broke, some viewers and fans were left outraged. However it wasn’t just fans who were left furious.
Actress Sally Phillips, who is well known for her roles in Miranda and the Bridget Jones films series, has accused the soap of causing ‘unnecessary hurt’ over the storyline.
The actress, whose 16-year old son Olly also has Down’s Syndrome, told the Daily Mail: “If Emmerdale wanted to tell the story of a termination for medical reasons to support women who choose that path, it could have been told without identifying a specific condition.
“The use of Down Syndrome diagnosis brings unnecessary hurt to a group of individuals, many of whom watch and enjoy the show precisely because there is a character with Down’s Syndrome.
The use of Down Syndrome diagnosis brings unnecessary hurt.
“Disability hate crime is on the rise and running with this storyline in Disability Awareness Month was at best poorly infirmed and thoughtless, and at worst irresponsible.”
Diff-Ability is a Cumbrian community interest company supporting those with disabilities and learning difficulties. The group has asked ITV to scrap the storyline.
Diff-Ability’s founder, Cristina Bowman, has a young son with Down’s Syndrome herself. She backed a petition for ITV to change the storyline so Laurel and Jai keep their baby.
More than 24,000 people have now signed the petition demanding the storyline is scrapped.
Meanwhile Emmerdale producer Laura Shaw defended the soap. She has begged critics to watch the storyline before passing judgement.
Emmerdale airs weeknights at 7pm on ITV, with an extra episode at 8pm on Thursdays.
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