Having an autistic child is not the end of the world--far from it. It is my hope that through this blog, at least a handful of people will get to understand that. My child is amazing, she brings us tremendous joy. We have good days & bad days, but we CHOOSE to focus on the good. Our belief is that by loving our daughter, giving her the most comfortable environment we can, and by most of all accepting her differences, she will continue to blossom--in her OWN way.

2/19/08

It's Not About Abortion Rights

I found a few more articles, worth a read, and wanted to share (on the topic of aborting babies with Down Syndrome). I also wanted to add, that I strongly feel that "selective abortions" for the sake of a fetus' disability has little to nothing to do with "abortion rights." As I understand it, the Pro-Choice movement is about choice. It's about a woman's right to have a safe abortion. Quite often the argument revolves around cases of rape, incest, etc. It's never been about eugenics, gender selection, etc. This is not necessarily a debate or topic I really want to open up here & now. I simply want to declare firmly, the promotion and almost forced abortions to woman who are pregnant with babies who have down syndrome is not about woman's rights. Whether you are on the "pro-choice" or "pro-life" side, you must realize that what is going on in OBGYN offices across "developed" nations is dark & unforgivable.

This topic is close to me because I've had the pleasure of knowing several children and adults with Down Syndrome. I can't imagine them not being here. I also see how in the near future, a prenatal screening for Autism will be available. I fear how many more abortions will occur, all for the sake of it being "better for us all." Whatever that means.

This discussion brings me back to a few years ago. My sister was pregnant, and her AFP results indicated an abnormality. My sister decided to have the amniocentesis, despite the risks involved. She was nervous, leading up to the amnio, and then the days that followed waiting for the test results. In those days, I distinctly remember her telling me, "I know you could handle this, I just don't think I could." She felt I could raise a child with Down Syndrome, but for some reason, it would be impossible for her to do so. Mind you, this was all before my youngest child was born--before Autism, feeding tubes, and special ed! I remember thinking, in the days awaiting my sister's test results, about my nephew who was developing inside her. I was sad to think I may never meet him. I even figured I would try to convince my sister to let me adopt her child. It was then that I truly saw the horrors of prenatal screening, and how putting such a decision into expectant parents is awfully cruel.

The amnio results came back, and all was fine. While it was a welcome relief for us all, I was angered further of the weeks that were lost because of the damn test results. It was nearly a month taken away from my sister's joy of being pregnant. That was replaced by almost 4 weeks of worry, despair, and torment. I've heard of so many others having that similar false-positive experience. I think of all the beautiful babies who will never be born all because they have Down Syndrome. I can see how in theory prenatal screening is good. Unfortunately, many have taken it to mean automatic abortion for those babies who may be different.

Worth reading & contemplating:

Defining Life Down: Are we okay with eliminating a class of humans?
by Kathryn Jean Lopez
Down Syndrome, Abortion, and Disability Rights by mjohnson

and then there's this...

One Woman's Choice by Maria Eftimiades
It's a sad story, but one I feel should be read. I'm still scratching my head how something like this would ever be published in the Washington Post, or any other publication. Some quotes I found especially disheartening:


If your child will be born with a severe disability, is there a "Get Out of Jail Free" card or are you still a baby killer?

While I have no doubt there can be joys and victories in raising a mentally handicapped child, for me and for Mike, it's a painful journey that we believe is better not taken. To know now that our son would be retarded, perhaps profoundly, gives us the choice of not continuing the pregnancy. We don't want a life like that for our child...

...how wrong it feels to bring someone else's morality into the discussion.

As for that baby that will never be, I will remember him always. But I'm quite certain that I made the right choice for the three of us.


**All of these articles are from 2005, old but (unfortunately) not outdated. I was not blogging nor as involved in advocacy & disability rights as I am now, of course. Figured others may have missed these too.

4 comments:

Joeymom said...

My best friend has three children, a set of twins now 9 years old, and another boy about to turn 5.

All three have hydrocephalus. All three are severely impacted by the hydrocephalus, despite their shunts.

Her worst fear is losing one of them, and this is a real possibility for her every day. They are wonderful people. We love them.

mayfly said...

It seems many would not protest the abortion of a child if the reason was other than special needs. Why make this exception? Are not NT children just as precious?
Very few abortions are done because of incest or rape. A fair number are done for convenience, but the majority are done after agonizing, heart-wrenching decisions have been made.

Sharon said...

Prenatal testing puts pressure on mothers to reject a specific child. This is a whole different issue from that facing women who are pregnant and do not want any child at that time. Woman are getting the message that they would be irresponsible to chose to give birth to a child they know to be disabled. I think this is anti-feminist.

It is not fair for a fetus to have to pass a test just to be born.

I don't want to get into a debate on all abortion either, I'll just say that I think it's essential that abortions be legally available, though every step should be taken to reduce the numbers performed.

S.L. said...

Sharon--
Thank you...you stated my view perfectly (much better than I!). Take care.