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

UNC Prof Suggests Abortion for Down Syndrome Babies

PhotobucketThis is not the first, nor will it be the last time we ever hear anything like this. No, for some sad & strange reason, a large section of humanity is going backwards. Back to the time of Hitler and killing for the sake of developing some supposed "perfect" human specimen. There are many scholars, doctors, and others who feel that a child with any chromosomal defect or other possible disability should not be brought into this world. The majority of parents are counseled on how difficult life would be raising a child like that, and that abortion really would be best for everyone. It is very disturbing, and I have no doubt it is only going to get worse and further escalate as genetic screenings become broader. Yet one more reason why Autism Speaks makes me queasy. A bulk of the research they are funding is working toward finding genetic markers, which will undoubtedly lead to prenatal screening.

At any rate, a screening for Down Syndrome exists here and now today. It's been estimated that more than 90% of all pregnancies thought to be carrying a child with Down Syndrome are aborted. That's 9 out of 10 babies, 9 out of 10 human beings that will never be able to make a mark in the world--all because of an extra chromosome. It's sad to hear the stories of parents who were counseled by their "trusted" physician on why bringing such a child into the world is not advisable. There's also the rates of false-positives and other issues with the testing itself (risk of bleeding, miscarriage, etc. with amnios).

Back to the article from a that caught my attention.


"In my opinion, the moral thing for older mothers to do is to have amniocentesis, as soon during pregnancy as is safe for the fetus, test whether placental cells have a third chromosome #21, and abort the fetus if it does," he said, according to a Raleigh news and Observer report.

He told the newspaper he has no apologies for the remark.

"I know somebody who had a child like this, and it ruined their life," he said.

Amy Allison, executive director of the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City, told the Associated Press, "I think you can see rather quickly why our community would be concerned about it when you are talking about eliminating a whole race of people."

ACTION: Contact UNC about Professor Harris at Office of the Chancellor, 103 South Building, Campus Box 9100, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-9100. Email chancellor@unc.edu, call (919) 962-1365 or fax (919) 962-1647.


Reading this type of article just sickens me. And to think, this is someone teaching our future doctors and scientists. What will the world-view on disabilities and differences be in 10 years from now? 20 years? It's a scary thought. Prenatal screening is a slippery slope, and ultimately, I can only see it leading to bad things. Scratch that, it has already led to bad things.

All I know to do now, is to share my wonderful & beautiful child with the world, and to embrace others who, like my daughter, are different--and amazing because of it! I found this, and thought it was fitting. It is nice to see so many parents speaking out for their children (with Down Syndrome), I see many parents of autistic children (slowly but surely) following their lead.

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I have previously written on what I call an assumed "Neurotypical Entitlement" that expectant parents often seem to feel they have, see here.

18 comments:

GrannyGrump said...

If he had been advocating screening for a "gay gene" or for dark skin pigmentation, it would be seen as the bigotry it is. But for some reason it's considered perfectly tolerant and rational to advocate killing people just because they're different in a way that makes the so-called "beautiful people" uncomfortable.

mumkeepingsane said...

"I know somebody who had a child like this, and it ruined their life," he said.

This really disturbs me. No discussion about supporting a parent and child with Down Syndrome but a dismissive statement suggesting that if one person couldn't cope then none should try.

abfh said...

I wouldn't be at all surprised if, when that doctor was a student, one (or more) of his professors told him the same thing. As you mentioned, these attitudes have been around since the time of Hitler, and even before that.

The baby pictured with the dog is just darling, and your blog has great graphics in general. That puzzle piece made of money sure tells it like it is.

S.L. said...

grannygrump--Absolutely. Only within the discussion of disabilities would such a mindset be tolerated. Your last sentence about making the "beautiful people" uncomfortable is RIGHT ON!!

mumkeepingsane--I know, that sentence just sent chills through me. How careless & cruel. Here again, if we were talking about a group other than those with disabilities (specifically developmental or neurological), this would not be tolerated. For any child to be spoken of in this manner, it is unacceptable.

abfh--Yes, sadly these disgusting beliefs have been around far too long. I found the graphic with the child & poem on photobucket. Some of my graphics are from there, others I made. Glad you like the money puzzle one, what can I say--Autism Speaks really inpsired me!!!

Susan said...

Hi. I'm in an autism specialist graduate program (basically an inclusion model for teaching kids in the mainstream), and need a good graphic for my binder cover. I love the spectrum mobius you use. Is there a larger image available that I could blow up for an 8.5x11 sheet of paper?

Thanks in advance.

S.L. said...

Hi Susan,

That awesome image is from Autism Diva's page, oddizm page (http://www.geocities.com/autistry/oddizms.html). She offers the image for others to use on their webpages, etc. Check out the website, I'm not sure if a larger image exists. You may be able to email her for it.

Anonymous said...

Hi
We found out about a month ago that our little girl has DS . Never did it cross our mind to end the pregnancy . Raising a child is a challenge no mattter if he or she has DS. We are six months now three more to go until we can love and hold our little girl Amelia .

S.L. said...

Anon:
Thank you so much for sharing your story, and congratulations. Enjoy all those precious moments with your Amelia. I will keep her in my thoughts. I wish you all the best.

Anonymous said...

If people think sacrificing for their children is a burden, honestly what business do such people have being parents? I think they should be sterilized. I'd sugggest pets, but that might be too much of a sacrifice for them too, might "ruin their life." Perhaps plants-or is watering too much a self-sacrifice?

I can't help thinking angrily about the "it ruined their life." part. Uh is "IT" referring to the child? It's so truly baffling and numbing how selfish people have become-even towards their own children.

Anonymous said...

my baby has been diagnosed with DS and some other neural tube defects. They cannot tell me what the extent of the damage will be. I know that a baby like this will not be given the quality of life that I want to give it because of financial circumstance and the extreme intolerance of people with defects in my country and our health system. Tell me how to cope with it by NOT terminating my pregnancy. How many mothers do you know that have gone through this and because someone else deems it cruel, have gone on to have children that will die young? Why should a mother be the one to suffer too and have to bury her children? I know I am going to be making alot of people mad but I do not see another way out. I want this child so much but I can't. I could not convey this words how bitter it makes me. Instead of people gunning women who have a reason, like me, speak to the women who deliberately hurt perfectly healthy babies because they just don't want them. Then you can get mad.

Ella said...

This is heartbreaking. My 17 year old sister in law has DS and I could not even begin to imagine my life without her. I love her so very much.

In addition, I am a pediatric RN and I often have children with DS or other medical syndromes as patients. I have to admit, although I love all of my patients, there is something about these precious children that speaks to me. One little guy with Leprechaun Syndrome was a frequent patient and his smile was so infectious... he knew my voice and would light up when he heard me enter his room... when I wasn't busy suctioning his trach or managing his g-tube I was singing and cuddling him. I just heard yesterday that he has passed since his last visit and I'm still processing my grief for my little angel. Another one of my precious ones has multiple anomalies that I know will take her soon and I know it will hurt... but then the next child will come and I will fall in love with them all over again....

I have six, soon to be seven children of my own... my oldest boy has Asperger's and when he was a toddler he was so difficult to deal with my own mother (who has NO maternal feelings) called him a perfect argument for birth control and his step-grandmother on his father's side said we should put him away and forget about him. He is now 12, highly gifted, and excelling in school. He still has issues with not getting jokes and developing real friendships, but great progress is made every year.

Anyway, this whole concept makes me so very sad... my SIL just realized we're having another baby and the way she reaches out to touch my stomach and smiles up at me and says, "I'm an aunt" makes my day every time... keep up the good work.

How dare anyone wish to murder children for not being "perfect"!!!

Jordan said...

What's really appalling is the way that so many people seem to be equating Jews and homosexuals and various ethnic minorities with retards.

Whenever you imply that aborting a retarded fetus is the same as killing black babies, you're saying that the best a black child could hope for is to work in McDonalds. You're saying that Jews have IQs in the sixties. You're saying that homosexuals have no chance of making the world a better place.

Jordan said...

PS: It's also offensive to compare people with Asperger Syndrome to Down Syndrome. What contributions has a Downie made to the human race? Corky? That doesn't really count.

Aspies, on the other hand, have made inestimable contributions. We've invented calculus, written Ode to Joy, and won Nobel Prizes.

SDA said...

We just recently learned that our baby would have Down Syndrome and other heart defects. Just before 13 weeks we had a US and confirmed by CVS. This was the hardest decision that we ever had to make. We are sad for the baby we wanted to have but not for the DS baby that would be in hospitals most of the time. No one really knows what they would do UNLESS they are actually in this situation. Living with DS baby that would be spending most of its time in hospitals having operation after operation then living a short life and dying. I would not treat my dog like that let alone a family member. We did what was right for us. We terminated our pregnancy last week.

Anonymous said...

My four year old sister has down syndrome, and I can't believe anyone would be selfish enough to abort someone like her just because they aren't the exact same as everyone else. There is absolutely nothing about her that people don't love. She is the sweetest little girl I have ever met, and she would never do anything to hurt anyone. She is slower than the average child, but what kind of a reason is that to kill someone? A few years ago, I got in a car accident and got a head injury that sent me from being an A student to not knowing basic math. I couldn't think right, and I was very far behind. According to most people who promote aborting down syndrome children, I wouldn't deserve to live either, since I was slower and needed lots of help to get back on top of things. For people who think down syndrome children are just too much work, and their lives would be horrible, so it would be so much better just to not let them live at all, that's the most pathetic excuse I have ever heard for being selfish and immature. If you don't have what it takes to take care of your own child, then don't get pregnant. As for people with down syndrome not having a good quality life, I can't believe anyone could say that. What I would like to know is, how can you even tell that their life isn't as good as yours? What if their life is better than yours? Obviously, there's a problem here. Your not living their life, they are, and it's none of your business to decide for them that they aren't good enough to live. As for people with down syndrome having made no benefit to humanity, I can't even believe anyone could make such a ridiculous comment. There are more ways to benefit the world than you think. Just by smiling and making someone's day better, you are making the world a better place, and people with downs do that every day, which is lots more than I could say for you. The only way you're benefiting the world is by leaving insulting, biased, just plain stupid comments that aren't contributing to anything. I can't believe people would tell me that my little sister doesn't deserve to live because her life isn't good enough, she's not smart enough, or she isn't going to contribute anything to society. Fyi, she loves every moment of her life, and plays with her dolls and friends just like every other kid. Her cheerful, loving, sweet attitude makes the world a better place, and she's much more likely to forgive you for what you said than I am.

Anonymous said...

Strange that some are comparing down syndrome to autism -- they are VERY different. Folks with autism generally suffer less physiologically (i.e. fewer heart problems, Alzheimer's, etc.) and can be cognitively above average, especially in certain focal areas. Down syndrome sufferers are ALWAYS below average in cognitive capacity and they almost always have physical problems that will mean a life in and out of the operating room. Mothers need to be given this information so that they can make informed choices. Should a woman choose to keep a down syndrome baby...we should support her choice. Should a woman choose to terminate a pregnancy due to down syndrome...we should support her.

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