Abortion is obviously a very controversial topic and its no secret that I am and always have been pro-life to those who know me, but I wanted to say a few things about Down Syndrome and abortion specifically. While there are so many complexities that go into finding accurate statistics for how many parents choose to abort their baby when they find out he or she has a Down Syndrome diagnosis (and/or related heart defects, etc.), there is no question that a very high percentage of people do in fact choose abortion upon getting a prenatal test-whether amniocentesis or the newer less invasive prenatal testing for trisomies (which include Down Syndrome). I consider anything over, say, 50% to be quite high especially considering the parents often were wanting the child to begin with. The reasoning for these abortions is the Down Syndrome diagnosis, which is very sad to me.
People are telling themselves it will be okay to choose abortion in this case, because the family and the baby is better off to just not live his or her life. I think some people truly do believe this, although some of it is admittedly selfishness in reality. I have read stories from parents who were planning to abort their child but just could not go through with it. Later, they evaluated what they were justifying and admitted they really think they were telling themselves it was for the child’s own good or the family’s own good, when in reality they were just scared and embarrassed about the diagnosis.
Lets say we could look into any of our children’s future, that all issues whether emotional/mental health, social, health issues that would develop later, etc.: Do we as decent human beings really believe that if you can find out there will be a certain struggle to be dealt with, then that person should just not live at all? How many of you readers have a perfect life with no struggles? I think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn’t qualify for some kind of diagnosis, some need at some point if not all points in life. So just because these kids with Down Syndrome or other trisomies are just more up-front about it, or I should say medical advances have allowed us to see more up-front what some of the struggle will be, then the chance to live life is just done for that child? Who do we as mere humans think we are to decide what people are worth at 10 weeks gestation (because that’s how early we can tell now with the new test)? What measuring stick are we using to find worth in people anyhow? All questions I’m not convinced doctors and patients/parents consider what to do with a prenatal diagnosis.
My husband and I have also been disappointed to see that some national spokespeople for Down Syndrome not only do not speak against such lack of value and consideration with prenatal testing for Down Syndrome, but that they mention abortion as a “reason” for getting prenatal testing. While they do not likely mean it as an encouragement to go get your baby with Down Syndrome aborted, its concerning that we can’t even count on some major stakeholders to stand up for the worth of those with Down Syndrome. Yes, it does say something about what you think of children and adults with Down Syndrome.
So lets see, what are we to do about this…I think it means we are to stop acting like we feel sorry for families who have kids with any kind of disability..Really, stop! While those of us with kids who have extra challenges are entitled to an occasional breakdown from being overwhelmed from complications that might arise, we are first and foremost parents. When you become parents, you are in it regardless of what happens. Your child is your child, and you love them. (I hope.) You do what you have to do for your kid. I used to feel sorry for people in a way when I saw a parent with any kid with a disability, but now I know better. I can be wrong about some parents, but I no longer assume that they wish things were different or don’t find joy in their children. (I’m not saying I always thought that, but the view is different from this side now that I have a kid with Down Syndrome.) I get when people say that our kids with Down Syndrome will bring us happiness and what not, but hey you don’t have to tell me! He is bringing me joy now, from his first breath ( or really from the time we got a positive pregnancy test over 2 years ago!)
Please share this post as it is an important topic that is often discussed too late.
-Natalie, Ethan’s Mommy