Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I think I posted something on this topic before

This story makes a great point about children diagnosed with Down's Syndrome or other serious disorders. And look! The girl's name is "Margaret."

... Margaret does not view her life as unremitting human suffering (although she is angry that I haven't bought her an iPod). She's consumed with more important things, like the performance of the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs and the dance she's going to this weekend. Oh sure, she wishes she could learn faster and had better math skills. So do I. But it doesn't ruin our day, much less our lives. It's the negative social attitudes that cause us to suffer.

In ancient Greece, babies with disabilities were left out in the elements to die. We in America rely on prenatal genetic testing to make our selections in private, but the effect on society is the same.

...Margaret is a person and a member of our family. She has my husband's eyes, my hair and my mother-in-law's sense of humor. We love and admire her because of who she is -- feisty and zesty and full of life -- not in spite of it. She enriches our lives. If we might not have chosen to welcome her into our family, given the choice, then that is a statement more about our ignorance than about her inherent worth.

What I don't understand is how we as a society can tacitly write off a whole group of people as having no value. I'd like to think that it's time to put that particular piece of baggage on the table and talk about it, but I'm not optimistic. People want what they want: a perfect baby, a perfect life. To which I say: Good luck. Or maybe, dream on.

And here's one more piece of un-discussable baggage: This question is a small but nonetheless significant part of what's driving the abortion discussion in this country. I have to think that there are many pro-choicers who, while paying obeisance to the rights of people with disabilities, want at the same time to preserve their right to ensure that no one with disabilities will be born into their own families. The abortion debate is not just about a woman's right to choose whether to have a baby; it's also about a woman's right to choose which baby she wants to have.

The article, which you can read in its entirety here, also includes this creepy bit of information:
Margaret's old pediatrician tells me that years ago he used to have a steady stream of patients with Down syndrome. Not anymore. Where did they go, I wonder. On the west side of L.A., they aren't being born anymore, he says.
And it's not for a happy reason, like, for instance, "Oh! We've finally cured Down's Syndrome!"

Now, when the Third Reich eliminated "undesirable" people with disorders such as Down's with the excuses that "they would have suffered terribly" and "they impose too great a burden on their families and society" it was, obviously, a wicked eugenics program. When Americans eliminate "undesirables" (with the same excuses) it's a difficult but deeply personal choice which the laws must not forbid! And anyone who suggests otherwise is imposing their value system on others! After all, who really has the authority to insist that it's a violation of human rights to destroy a child in the womb simply because we have determined that its genetic structure makes it sooo inferior to us!

/Sarcasm off. I shouldn't have to say "Sarcasm!" but I know sometimes the written word does not communicate as well as speech ...

Ran across the article on Open Book.


  1. hey just read your sunday entry :) i hate salad runner too!!! though i must say, i do know my green peppers :D (but that's just cause i love 'em. i always pause to make sure bettween bannana peppers and jallopenio peppers which i can't spell and also occasionally zuccini (sp again) and cucumber (sp?? ack!!! *fizzles out*)

    um... anyway.. so yeah, salad runner is just boring and icky :P

  2. Well written article/posting!

    DId I ever tell you the first test my mom had when she was pregnate with Kathryne (which was just a basic, run of the mill test since she was 35 at the time) said that my now-in-advanced-classes sister had Downs?

    So we had a week (or so... I don't remember exactly how long it was) in which my mom rented EVERY book on raising Down Syndrome babies ever written (or just about all of them) before the second test came back and gave us an all clear.

    Still... Makes me think every so often how our lives would be different, though, you know?

    I just CAN'T imagine anyone killing a baby because of this, though. It's almost worse to murder them specifically because of a genetic abnormality (or their sex, whatever) then just because, you know? Not that one's worse then the other... But I just don't know how people can give themselves "reasons" like that.

    That's so sad (which is not a strong enough word, but you know what I mean) about the LA situation...