Laurel Thomas in Emmerdale decides to have an abortion next week, leaving friend Rhona Goskirk horrified.
Laurel learns that her baby has Down’s syndrome and decides a termination is the best decision for her and partner Jai.
Rhona Goskirk and Marlon Dingle have a young son, Leo, who has Down’s, so this news naturally distresses them.
In a special four-hander episode, Laurel and Jai receive a pre-natal diagnosis.
The devastated couple head home to process the news.
But when they arrive, they discover that Gabby has found the scan picture and has already got their sons excited about having another brother or sister.
Read more: How many children do Jai and Laurel have?
Later in the episode, Rhona notices Laurel seems anxious and encourages her to open up.
Laurel explains her news and considerations about an abortion, and Rhona is clearly disturbed and a little insulted.
The following day, Laurel and Jai overhear Marlon and Rhona chatting about the joy Leo has brought into their lives.
After discussions their options and repercussions of decisions, the couple realise they’re both on the same page: they should terminate the pregnancy.
Emmerdale this week
On air this week, Laurel learns there are irregularities with the foetus at her first scan.
The nurse was unable to complete the measurements herself. A doctor then tells her and Jai that, because of Laurel’s age (46) there was a chance the baby could have a chromosomal disorder, such as Down’s syndrome.
Laurel and Jai have to make a decision about whether to take the test to confirm the condition.
Despite only just beginning, the storyline has already caused a viewer backlash.
“But producer Laura Shaw has issued a plea: “Please watch it, please just watch it before you make any opinions.
“We haven’t gone into this lightly. We’ve spoken to as many people as we possibly can, we’ve got the research.
“It’s based on real-life and I think people will see that.
“You are going to feel uncomfortable at times watching it but I hope that people will then understand why we’ve done it.
Emmerdale airs weeknights at 7pm on ITV, with an extra episode at 8pm on Thursdays.
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