I wasn’t going to respond to the following comment I just received on My Angry Down Syndrome Awareness post that I wrote last year. This person’s statements had been well crafted and had the ring of something she’d probably said a thousand times before. Someone who comes and posts such a thing is not easily swayed. I haven’t been able to get the things she said out of my head though, because too many women have been deceived into believing the same thing. I write this too, because I’ve received MANY other emails and comments that echo the same following sentiments:
“Terminating a pregnancy due to down syndrome diagnosis might be the wrong choice for you, but it could absolutely be the right choice for someone else. It could also end up being the most selfLESS and responsible and loving decision they could make in the context of their situation.
It’s not your place to tell anyone that such a personal decision is the wrong choice for them, anymore than it was that miserable womans place to judge the mum in your grocery store story.
Life can suck if you have a child with down syndrome, that’s just the reality of the situation.
Just as it’s the reality of the situation that life can suck if you have what society deems to be a perfectly “normal” child.
What it all comes down to is that you really have no clue what effect the decision to bring a child into the world will have on someone else’s life, because it’s just that – someone else’s life. Someone else’s emotional capacity, someone else’s environment, someone else’s temperament, someone else’s patience level, etc.
I think perpetuating the ‘you’ll adapt when they get here’ myth is extremely harmful. That’s just not the way it works for everyone. Every child is different and everyone experiences motherhood in a different way.
This diversity in experiences is why we need to learn to respect each others choices instead of judging. If someone doesn’t want to raise a child with down syndrome, then they should be able to make the decision not to. If someone doesn’t believe that life begins at conception, then you should respect that and acknowledge that to them – making the decision to abort has nothing to do with terminating a life.
You’re more than entitled to believe that G-d stepped in and directed sperm to yours and every Maury Povich guests eggs because it was ~meant to be~, but some people view the process of procreation very differently.
I used to work with abused and neglected children, and it’s amazing how resilient they can be. Babies and special needs kids especially, can go through the unimaginable and still find it within themselves to throw out smiles that can light up a room.
Cute smiley happy baby pictures shouldn’t be used as justification for “choosing life” or making certain parenting choices.
Those cute smiley babies still experience real pain and often grow up to be very screwed up broken adults as the result of no one thinking about what their quality of life would be like once they’re here.
Children should not be used as little emotional test drive dummies. “
First off, I’m pretty sure the person who wrote this, “Grace,” did not read the blog post in it’s entirety. She would have seen that the purpose of that post was not to talk about the legality or even the ethics of abortion as a whole. I made -and have never made- any references to “life beginning at conception” because I don’t know that it does (before those of you who do believe it does start throwing stones, make sure that you’ve never used birth control or an IUD before…). I don’t believe that God personally directed the sperm to the egg or even that he had a hand in her having an extra chromosome. I said in my other post that it was “meant to be” because I believe that people are born certain ways, whether it be born with Down syndrome, autism or anything else that will define who they are in life, because that’s just the way it’s supposed to be. I believe that my children are children of God. But I’m not sure God has his hands in ALL things. I think we make choice to procreate, and that leads to offspring- and a million things could go wrong (or right, depending on how you look at it) in that process. Does that mean that it was all God’s doing? Absolutely not. It’s why I say it so often that children with special needs ARE NOT sent to special people. But this is life. It’s taking what happens and CHOOSING to do the best with what we are given.
Tell me how terminating a baby with Down syndrome is SELFLESS? Did you read the statistics given in the post? These people grow up to live happy, fulfilling lives. And you can’t really use the argument that “it’s just not the right time for them to have the baby…” in this case. How many mothers who are going to abort anyways spend the money and time getting the baby tested for genetic abnormalities? That doesn’t make ANY sense. Sure, in our country, a woman has the right to choose to abort her pregnancy. But that’s not the case here. These are babies that would not have been aborted if they weren’t found to have Down syndrome.
And I’ll say it again, at what point does our becoming parents become contingent on having the perfect baby? Do you realize that your chances of having a child with autism are 1 in 88? What then? Do you say you can’t do it and give them up? It’s the same argument you are giving for aborting a child with Down syndrome.
You say that life can suck for someone with Down syndrome just as much as it can suck for any “normal” person. So based on that argument, why have kids at all? What I was trying to say in the post is that it DOES NOT SUCK more for people with Down syndrome as it does for the society at large. And if you look at the statistics, it almost seems as if it sucks less.
I think that aborting a baby because it has Down syndrome is the wrong choice. But it is a choice. My problem with the statistics about abortion and Down syndrome is that this choice is being based on faulty information. An article by Debbie Marsh on Disaboom.com shows the data behind this assertion:
A 2000 study found that nearly 25% of physicians who explain prenatal test results put a negative spin on a finding of Down syndrome, or actively encourage the parents to terminate the pregnancy. Furthermore, a 2005 survey of mothers with Down syndrome children uncovered a similar bias within the healthcare community when such a child was born.
Mothers reported their obstetrician telling them that they had “awful” news, or commenting about a newborn that “this could have been prevented … at an earlier stage.” In reality, a child with Down syndrome usually has only mild to moderate cognitive delays, and can make many positive contributions to society.
It may largely be a problem with how doctors in the U.S. are trained. Fully 45 percent of obstetric fellows report that their instruction on how to deliver a prenatal diagnosis is “barely adequate” or “nonexistent.” And 81 percent of medical students say they’re not getting any clinical training in how to talk with people who have intellectual disabilities.
You are right, Grace. It’s not my place to judge those who make such a decision. All I can hope to do is inform them about the REALITY of having a child with Down syndrome, because I have one. I live with Down syndrome every single day. It’s not always easy. But I’ve learned firsthand that the stereo-type that exists in society that people with Down syndrome “suffer” and are “drains on society” is wrong.
I want women who receive a prenatal diagnosis to know all of the facts before they make such a decision. I want them to know that there are over 200 paper-ready couples who are waiting for a child with Down syndrome specifically. I want these women to understand the life outcomes for people with Down syndrome. They need to understand the medical complications. They also need to know that most people with Down syndrome aren’t the image they have in their heads. Thus the “Cute smiley happy baby pictures.” Because Abby is cute, she is happy. And she is ADORED.
I didn’t know how hard it would be having a child with Down syndrome when Abby was born. I did not know how long the nights would feel as I laid awake next to her watching her struggling to breathe. But I also had no idea how great it would be. How this little 2 year old has changed the way I view the world. How I view myself. I had no idea how adored she would be. People stop us every where we go to oggle over her. I had no idea what a support system I’d have within the Down syndrome community. I want other women to know that it will be okay. That it’s good. That it’s SO good.