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Silence on Eugenic Abortion

posted by awelborn

George Neumayr on the ‘abortion debate that wasn’t."

Not wishing to publicize a practice most doctors prefer to keep secret, the medical community releases only sketchy information on the frequency of eugenic abortion against the disabled. But to the extent that the numbers are known, they indicate that the vast majority of unborn children prenatally diagnosed as disabled are killed.

Medical researchers estimate that 80 percent or more of babies now prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. (They estimate that since 1989, 70 percent of Down syndrome fetuses have been aborted.) A high percentage of fetuses with cystic fibrosis are aborted, as evident in Kaiser Permanente’s admission to The New York Times that 95 percent of its patients in Northern California choose abortion after they find out through prenatal screening that their fetus will have the disease.

Excellent article, from the Seattle paper (not the American Spectator, where Neumayr is an editor). It will be interesting to see the reaction.

Pop culture refraction: In the HBO series Six Feet Under, Nate and Brenda are battling over testing for their unborn child. One test has revealed a slight chance of a disability, Brenda is resistant to taking any further tests, her husband (long time viewers: can we hate Nate any more than we do right now, after this episode?) is pressuring her, and finally admitted that he would want her to abort. Her language was blunt: "You’d want us to kill it?" "Well, yes."

It was very well done, and another startling example of this series dealing with the abortion issue forthrightly, without euphemism. (An interesting thought just popped into my head – for a show about death, this show has never, I don’t think, had a euthanasia plotline. Has it?) The writing on this storyline was especially strong last night. Nate has a conversation with a female friend who had had a child die in the past. She explained to him that despite the suffering, the experience was worth it (forgive the utilitarian language), and said, with a sort of awed look on her face, "He was a person. A wonderful person. And I was so privileged to know him."

Of course, when Nate reports the conversation to Brenda, he completely misrepresents it, saying it was all about how difficult the experience had been. Brenda asks, "Did she say she regretted it?" He pauses. "That’s not the point."

(As we said…Nate Hate Club meets here)

When Brenda gets the news about the questionable test, she’s shopping for ponchos in a maternity store. She can’t decide between two she particularly likes. She gets the call, puts both back.

At the end, she’s made her decision, not to get any further testing. Final scene: she’s walking out of the maternity store, wearing one poncho, carrying the other in a bag. She got both. Pregnancy squared, Baby Love underlined. Not a word spoken, not any required. Great stuff.



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Richard

posted July 18, 2005 at 9:50 am


In a Spectator interview, Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania recalled his 2003 exchange with Clinton on the Senate floor in which she endorsed eugenic abortion. “It was pretty revealing. She was saying there had to be an exemption for disabled children being aborted as opposed to healthy children being aborted,” he says. “When she realized what she was advocating for, she had to put in the general niceties. But I don’t think you can read her comments and come to any other conclusion than that the children with disabilities should have less constitutional protection than children who are healthy.”
He added that “the principal reason the Democrats defended the partial-birth abortion procedure was for pregnancies that have ‘gone awry,’ which is not about something bad happening to the life of the mother but about their finding out the child is not in the condition that they expected, that it was somehow less than wanted and what they had hoped for.”

Say what we might about Santorum, he’s dead on the money here.
A very disturbing article on many levels. Thanks, Amy, for posting it.



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Rick

posted July 18, 2005 at 10:13 am


Santorum’s right — but don’t Republicans have complicity in this too?
For example, why does the IRS under a Republican Administration deem abortion a “qualified medical expense?”
Such a designation means that eugenic and other abortions can be tax deductible — or be paid for with pre-tax dollars from Bush’s new Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).
Why does the tax code provide this economic incentive for abortion?
And even if it is not possible right now to declare abortion illegal, can’t the tax code recognize and teach that abortion is almost never a “medical expense” that treats a health condition of the mother?



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Rich Leonardi

posted July 18, 2005 at 10:24 am


I recall reading Bishop Chaput’s “Living the Catholic Faith” a few years ago in which he bluntly dealt with this subject, e.g., “The reason you don’t see children with Down Syndrome anymore is because they are being killed before they are born” (or something similar). Many optimistic-minded Catholics are bullish about the benefits technological advances like ultrasounds will bring to the pro-life cause. But technology, being morally neutral, cuts both ways.



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carolyn

posted July 18, 2005 at 10:25 am


I think there’s a sense in the article that the parents are simply being selfish when they abort a fetus with disabilities to save themselves the trouble of raising them. Isn’t it likely that they also wish to save their child suffering, both physical and mental, that so often is the fate of these children?
Of course we should all help to make the world a little more hopeful for the handicapped, but the situation as it stands now is pretty dismal, to tell you the truth. I think the article’s a little too hard on the parents.



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Dorothy

posted July 18, 2005 at 10:51 am


This is so very sad.
I suppose we have Margaret Sanger to thank.
I remember, a while ago, seeing Jane Fanda on a TV news clip thanking Margaret Sanger for the freedom of women and their rights.
Their rights to do what – kill their children?
God help us. Pray folks – just pray.



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bearing

posted July 18, 2005 at 10:57 am


We switched about 7 months ago to a thriving parish with a great many large families and a wonderful, orthodox pastor.
One of the first things I noticed about the parish was the unusually large number of disabled children. There are probably five or six children we see at Sunday Mass who have an apparent congenital disability.
It took me a few Sundays before I realized that I was looking at the _normal_ number of disabled children.



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David R.

posted July 18, 2005 at 11:25 am


“Isn’t it likely that they also wish to save their child suffering, both physical and mental, that so often is the fate of these children?”
Probably. But this is a sick and twisted perception. First of all, who are they to decide who lives or dies? Of course, this type of inquiry simply leads to the acceptance of killing thousands of disabled who wont suffer severe pain and anguish. It is the same as euthanasia, we value their lives from our perspective, not theirs.



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David R.

posted July 18, 2005 at 11:32 am


Just to follow up my previous point. Are we supposed to believe that 80% of all children with down syndrome are in such sever pain and mental anguish as to be better off dead? This is certainly not true of the people with downs syndrome that I know. In fact, the one’s I know have a great joy in living.
If parents think killing a downs baby in the womb is compassionate, I really think they are ignoramuses. The true compassion is that of the parents for their convenience, appearance, and lifestyle. Sorry if that is harsh, but I really think the compassion card in the case of downs syndrome children is self-justifying baloney.



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DarwinCatholic

posted July 18, 2005 at 11:42 am


I’m impressed to see an article about this in a mainstream media venue, even if it has been relegated to the opinion section. I ran some statistics on this a while back based on a couple studies looking at the parents of children with Down syndrome.
Of the parents who received a pre-natal diagnosis and nonetheless carried their children to term, over 40% were Catholic (as opposed to 20-25% of the general population) and religion was cited as one of the major factors in choosing to keep the child.
Bearing is right, soon they’ll be saying, “They know we are Christian by our disabled kids.”



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kathleen reilly

posted July 18, 2005 at 11:43 am


That downs statistic is so appalling. Maybe having a down’s syndrome child will become the new status symbol. (just to be clear, no sarcasm intended, just grim irony)



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carrie ryckman

posted July 18, 2005 at 11:43 am


Just yesterday, a friend told me of her relative whose baby was on a heart donor list because of a congenital heart defect. Further testing, however, also showed that the baby’s brain was also getting smaller, and therefore, the baby in all liklihood would have cognitive disabilites. They baby was then “taken off” the heart donor list!



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T. Marzen

posted July 18, 2005 at 11:50 am


We prolifers like to use pre-Nazi and Nazi Germany as prototypes for where this sort of thing leads. But do you know what? We are much more thorough and efficient at eugenics and eugenic killing than the Nazi era types could ever have hoped to be. And we don’t even have a coercive State to blame: Our practices procede from the free choices of parents.
You can blame politicians if you want, but the fact is that “fetal defect” is one of those types of abortion overwhelming numbers of Americans would like to keep legal. The law is unlikely to change in this regard without a fundamental way in the way Americans typically think about human life and morality.



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Donald R. McClarey

posted July 18, 2005 at 12:00 pm


This is all part of an evolving nightmare. First “defective” unborn children are aborted. The next step is to murder “defective” children after they are born with their parents consent, which is done informally in this country and formally in the Netherlands. The next step will be for “defective” children to be murdered without the consent of their parents. Somewhere in Hell the masterminds behind the Reich’s eugenic policies are enjoying at least a brief smile. Time to act now to end this nightmare.



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Maclin Horton

posted July 18, 2005 at 12:08 pm


DarwinCatholic says Bearing is right, soon they’ll be saying, “They know we are Christian by our disabled kids.”
In the science-fiction classic, A Canticle for Liebowitz, set in a devastated post-nuclear-war world, the severely-mutated children whom the Church has decreed must be allowed to live are referred to as “the Pope’s children.”



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Kevin

posted July 18, 2005 at 12:15 pm


We just went through this as we are expecting our first in a couple of months. California pays for a screening test and you are pushed to take the test during your first couple of check ups. Further screening is also paid for by the state.
Our test came back positive meaning at risk for Downs or other genetic diseases. More tests were pushed and a free consult with the genetic counselor. At each step the questionnaire asked, what did we want to do with the “fetus” if the test came back negative. We kept answering “Love Him”. Finally we said no more. God will decide.
I thought this attitude was due to a health care system that thinks of abortion as another procedure towards “healthy living”. But the article points to several lawsuits by persons who sued because their “fetus” was not screened properly so presumably they could not abort. How disgusting is that? Probably a large part of this test pushing is the health care system protecting themselves from these disgusting lawsuits. It seems like the legal system is helping to drive this attitude.



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Celine

posted July 18, 2005 at 12:40 pm


Kevin:
You are referring to “wrongful birth” suits: Cases in which parents sue the doctor because he failed to apprise them of tests that could have detected the presence of a fetal defect, which, the parents claim, would have led them to abort the child.
The law is not so much “pushing” eugenics as following (and reinforcing) what is already standard medical practice. Most doctors regard it as unethical to fail to advise patients of tests for fetal defect and do so as part of their standard medical practice . . . thus, other doctors are held to be obliged to do so as well and, if their failure to do so results in the birth of a child with defect, then a suit can be brought. A couple of states have banned such suits, but the rest allow them.



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Keith

posted July 18, 2005 at 12:56 pm


The claim that parents want to save their unborn children with Down Syndrome suffering by killing them, I think, is almost always a rationalization, carolyn. It saves them from having to deal with the fact that they really want to save themselves the trouble, and the looks from strangers in public.
Let’s pray for those faced with such decisions and the grace of repentance for those who have aborted their babies.
I’m sorry to say I know one family who had a DS baby in neonatal icu received an offer from a dr. to kill her. And this is not terribly uncommon.
And many babies do very, very well. Look at my daughter Annie, who has down syndrome at http://keithklein.typepad.com. Does she look like she is in great mental or physical anguish? She is joyful and has brought great joy to our home.



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Zhou

posted July 18, 2005 at 1:23 pm


A nice summary of the wrongs.:

1) Wrongful life means the the child sues the mother or other people for being born.
2) Wrongful birth means the mother sues other people for being burdened with a disabled child something she could have avoided. In essence wrongful birth suits are genetic or prenatal malpractice suits tort cases
3) Wrongful pregnancy means that you became pregnant or had a child period without wanting it (this happens if a pregnancy isn’t detected or a sterilisation procedure fails)

4) wrongful breech of warrenty means that a mother or child can sue because a bad embryo was used in the IVF procedure in the case preimplantation diagnostic is available. UK below opens possibility that child can sue related to preimplantation diagnostic
HFE Act1A; (1) …

In (1) wrongful life cases, the person born sues others because they were injured by being born, and others are responsible. For example, in the Netherlands, 9 year old Kelly Molenaar was born with a chromosonal defect, sued and won damages. Her parents were awarded (2) wrongful birth damages, for her support until she was 21, but the court also felt she deserved (1) wrongful life damages for lifetime support.

The court accepted that damage to Kelly and her parents resulted from the midwife’s error. A referral to a clinical geneticist would have resulted in an abortion and Kelly would not have been born. Damages against the hospital amounting to the cost of Kelly’s care and upbringing until her 21st birthday were awarded to her parents.
But the court went further, ruling that Kelly herself was liable to damages. The court judged that the damage experienced by Kelly was in a legal sense a predictable consequence of the midwife’s mistake. Therefore the court accepted the possibility of a claim for wrongful life. A further court sitting must now set the level of damages. The hospital’s lawyers are considering an appeal to the Supreme Court to quash the judgment.

Hmmmm….I have a few physical defects, having been born back in the primitive 1950′s in a Catholic hospital, and having undergone (ultimately unsuccessful) surgeries to correct my visual defects in another Catholic hospital, with much suffering that affects me every day. I wonder if I can sue somebody and retire? On the other hand, given the way things are going, if I make too much noise maybe I’ll be “harvested.”



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carolyn

posted July 18, 2005 at 1:26 pm


Keith–I’m not denying that there can be good outcomes as in your daughter’s case. Of course the condition of DS is not uniformly grim–its very variable. But at the point of diagnosis does a pregnant mother know exactly how it’ll work out? Some conditions worse than DS result in misery not only for the vicitm but others in the family when most resources, fianancial and emotional must go to maintaining the handicapped. Some marriages break up under the srain. Do not forget that the parents, heirs to Original Sin, are not perfect and may not be able to rise to the occasion and know it ahead of time.
One can say abstractly that they’re wrong to abort, but I can’t really condemn them too strongly.



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Katherine

posted July 18, 2005 at 1:27 pm


Interesting post from a disabled woman on this subject.
The crux of this debate is when human life begins and what to do in the face of uncertainty about it. Most of your opponents do not disagree about whether it is all right to murder an infant for being disabled. They disagree about whether a fetus is an infant. To the extent that you’re interested in trying to persuade them, you’re going to have more success if you focus on that question than if you assume the conclusion and compare them to Hitler. It is not self-evident to most people in America that a human life with a human soul is formed at the moment of fertilization. It was not self-evident to Thomas Aquinas.
Pro-choice people do the same thing–they assume that it is self-evident that the fetus is not a human being until birth, and therefore that everyone who opposes abortion really just hates women.
The Supreme Court has done it, twice. In Roe they decided without justifying it with science or anything else that it was self-evident that the fetus was not a human being until the end of the second trimester. In Casey they rejected that approach, they decided without really justifying it that it was self evident that the fetus was not a human being until it viabiity.
I wish people would stop assuming the conclusion. I really do. Which means that were I on the Supreme Court, I would vote to overrule Roe v. Wade.
A lot of Americans just try not to think about it. Out of sight out of mind. Myself included until recently, by the way. I had no idea that 40+% of American women had had abortions. I can think of no possible way for a decent person to argue that is not an enormous moral failure. If you’re pro-life it’s obvious. Even if you’re pro-choice, and believe that all these women made the best possible choice under those circumstances or at least that no one else knows or has a right to say otherwise–even assuming that, which I don’t, you’re still left with the knowledge that 43% of American women were in a position where they felt there was their best choice. There is just no way to spin that number in a way that’s acceptable.
I am simply not convinced by the Catholic Church’s teaching on the subject of the moment of life’s beginning. I have read the argument, I think it is more convincing than NARAL’s or Harry Blackmun’s or Kate Michaelman’s; nevertheless, I am not convinced. Appeals to the Church’s authority and infallibility will not convince atheists, agnostics, and Jews, and all of those who do not already accept the Church’s authority and infallibility. All these arguments start with the premise that there is a single instant when life begins and a human soul enters the body. I do not buy that premise. I think that premise is totally contradicted by the scientific information we have available, and I don’t think we are entitled to reject that information because it is difficult to square with our beliefs. If the week of Genesis can take eons in geological time, why is it not possible that it take the length of a pregnancy for God to breathe life into us?
The Church argument I find most convincing is: in the face of uncertainty, preserve life. Do not dare murder. And even if it is not murder, do not dare reject God’s gift, do not dare interrupt him while he is breathing life into the child you carry.
But in the face of uncertainty, the suffering of a woman about whose person-hood there is no doubt–a rape victim, an incest victim, a woman with an ectopic pregnancy or some other medical complication such that continuing the pregnancy endangers her health and ensures that her child will not live outside the womb–that carries more weight. The Church does not live up to the principle of “in the face of uncertainty preserve life” in its teachings on ectopic pregnancy. That’s because the Church isn’t uncertain, of course.
Second, just because you believe that the lights come on like a sunrise instead of a light switch, doesn’t mean there aren’t moments when you can say “It’s still dark” or “it’s light out.” There’s an old paradox that math teachers like to annoy students with: if you think that one is a small number, there are no big numbers, because you can go on to infinity adding one. But actually, most of us reject this, say: just because the change is gradual doesn’t mean we can’t tell we’re on one side of it. So you can believe what I do about the beginning of life, and still believe that the birth control pill and Plan B are not murder; still believe that the church teaching’s on ectopic pregnancy are immoral; still believe that it’s immoral to make it a crime to give the morning after pill to a rape victim.
Now, I am sure that it seems blasphemous, murderous, sacreligious to think about it this way. But I do. I have thought about this seriously, and this is what I think. I’m not an atheist either.
So how do you deal with that? I’m not saying you just have to accept it, because it’s possible that I’m wrong and you’re right, in which case you certainly should not accept it. You can try to convert me to Catholicism, but you know, you’re not very likely to succeed. You can compare me to Eichmann, but you know, I find that about as convincing as the people who argue that opponents of abortion like Amy Welborn just hate women. So that’s not very likely to succeed either.
If I were in the minority on this, you wouldn’t need to convince me. But I don’t think I am. I think I’m a lot closer to you than most Americans, certainly than most Americans who are otherwise as liberal as I am.
So how do you deal with people like me? How do I deal people like you, who I think are wrong in almost every other respect about issues involving sex and reproduction, but closer than NARAL to being right about this?
(Amy, I am leaving my email off this particular posting because I’m afraid it’s too inflammatory and don’t want to get hate mail about this particular issue.) I don’t want to do this as a general policy.



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Rick Lugari

posted July 18, 2005 at 1:31 pm


Keith,
Beautiful, baby! I too am the father of a special needs child and I can tell you that there is nothing more rewarding. For our children’s sake we always hope they will be born healthy, but God seems to be giving us a greater blessing when they aren’t “perfect”. I just told my wife the other day, that I was actually glad that my Joseph is the way that he is; because it makes him who he is: A perfect little soul. And BTW, he is an incredibly happy boy.



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David R.

posted July 18, 2005 at 1:48 pm


Katherine, you can’t prove using scientific evidence that you yourself have a soul. Does that mean we should be wishy washy about killing you? Your confusing a theological or metaphysical argument (ensoulment) with a scientific one (existence of a unique human life). Only the most dense pro-abortionists will argue that a person is not human, or does not begin at, the moment of conception. That’s a scientific fact.



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MaureenM

posted July 18, 2005 at 1:50 pm


I’m not sure where Katherine is coming from in mentioning ectopic pregnancy and it is rather off topic but The New England Journal of Medicine published a rather remarkable photograph on page 74 of its July 7 issue. It is a full body, face forward photograph of an embryo just 2 cm long coming out from a ruptured fallopean tube. The commentary notes that the woman had 2 previous pregnancies (Para 2) but no living children. The tube could not be saved — what is obvious but unmentioned is that the embryo could not be saved either. I’m not sure if you can see it online without a subscription but it is worth searching out.



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Keith

posted July 18, 2005 at 1:59 pm


-carolyn
I am aware that there are far more serious genetic diseases than DS, and of the many degrees of DS-related problems – 40% of the kids have some significant heart defect. My daughter had a whole in a major artery that, thank God, closed on its own. I didn’t mean to paint a rosy picture of the situation. Many face far more difficult issues than my family does.
But you say some parents “may not be able to rise to the occasion and know it ahead of time.” 1) They may be wrong about not being able to rise to the occasion. I can only say I was overtaken by a special grace when our daughter was born, and was able to deal with the DS better than I would have thought possible beforehand. 2) For those who really can’t rise to the occasion or don’t have the resources, there are many willing adoptive parents who would jump at the opportunity.
And you say “One can say abstractly that they’re wrong to abort…” Don’t know exactly what you mean by “abstractly”. But I don’t condemn the parents too strongly either. But the act of an abortion is contemptable and to be condemned.



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mark

posted July 18, 2005 at 2:00 pm


One reason that I permanently and irrevocably fell in love with a certain woman was that, one day, fairly soon after I had met her, we had a discussion about what ifs — what if this, what if that.
Ultimately, I got to, what if you learned that your unborn child was severely disabled, etc., would you have an abortion then, wouldn’t it be easier, more compassionate, etc.?
Her response was, No, she would not, she would feel privileged that God had chosen her to be the mother for such a child, to provide love and affection for him or her.



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Keith

posted July 18, 2005 at 2:02 pm


Thanks, Rick. She’s a blessing.



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mark

posted July 18, 2005 at 2:05 pm


Here’s a recent story in the British Medical Journal — Dutch doctors adopt guidelines on mercy killing of newborns
http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/331/7509/126-a?etoc



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Sonetka

posted July 18, 2005 at 2:07 pm


I think another issue is what kind of prenatal counseling these parents are getting. Most people go into the AFP test/20 week ultrasound not really expecting to find anything severely wrong; if they do, it has to be a tremendous shock, especially if the baby has a condition which is, as they like to put it, “incompatible with life.” It hasn’t happened to me so I can’t speak firsthand, but I’ve heard a lot of accounts of people who were (a) in shock, and not in any condition to really be making decisions right away, coupled with (b) doctors/genetic counselors intent on letting you know the worst possible outcome; for DS, for example, dwelling on pretty much the worst-case scenarios. I doubt they do this because they’re eeevil and love scraping children out of the uterus, they probably do it because they’re afraid that otherwise they’d be looking at a wrongful-birth suit down the line for misrepresenting the severity of the condition. Also, if premature induction of labour is being presented as pretty much the only option, a lot of people would just go along; in the emotional state you’re in, you might not be able to think of anything else to do except what the doctor tells you is best.
I’m not saying this is everyone’s experience on finding out that their child is in some way compromised, just that it does appear to happen to a significant number of them.



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Keith

posted July 18, 2005 at 2:19 pm


What Sonetka describes sounds accurate to me re: doctors/genetic counselors advising their patients. I typically here this from other parents of kids with DS. Such an exagerated, grim picture is painted for them, that many may abort who otherwise might not have. And many doctors do this in fear of lawsuits. But several parents I know who actually considered abortion based on these test results are glad they didn’t go through with it.
In our case, my wife decided not to take any genetic tests, knowing that whatever the result, we would of course take care of our child as best we could.



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Anne-Marie

posted July 18, 2005 at 2:35 pm


Katherine,
“So how do you deal with people like me?”
First, by saying that I’m very glad to hear from you, and then, by trying to explain respectfully where it seems to me your thinking has gone astray. Please call me out if I don’t succeed!
“Now, I am sure that it seems blasphemous, murderous, sacreligious to think about it this way.”
No, to me it just seems slightly muddled. I think you have come to the logical conclusion from a confused starting point. The confusion arises from thinking of humanity (a human soul) as something that can be acquired by degrees–”like a sunrise instead of a light switch,” as you so neatly put it. You can’t have 30% of a soul, or be a half-human; either you are or you aren’t human. Humanity, unlike sunniness, is a binary category. Therefore, the change *has* to happen in an instant: before, there were two human beings, Mum and Dad, and afterwards, there are three. Never two-and-a-bit.
In any case, your comments on ectopic pregnancy suggest that we’d both agree that the change from two to three happens very early in the pregnancy. That’s a lot of common ground. Wouldn’t it be great if people like you and people like me could volunteer together at a Birthright center and explain ourselves to each other at length?
“How do I deal people like you, who I think are wrong in almost every other respect about issues involving sex and reproduction, but closer than NARAL to being right about this?”
I have no idea. I’m surprised you can stand us enough to read this blog. Did you see the article by Nat Hentoff that appeared many years ago in the Washington Monthly, called “What’s Right About Right-to-Life”? Also, there are plenty of other people who won’t call you names and turn their backs on you just because you disagree about the first few hours of human life. Maybe you could find more of them through groups such as Feminists For Life (www.feministsforlife.org) or Liberals For Life or Democrats For Life (www.democratsforlife.org).
Anne-Marie



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Dmitri

posted July 18, 2005 at 2:47 pm


“Isn’t it likely that they also wish to save their child suffering, both physical and mental, that so often is the fate of these children?”
Carolyn, I think you should visit this web site:
http://www.notdeadyet.org
It puts the lie to the “save them from suffering” argument.



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Rich Leonardi

posted July 18, 2005 at 3:00 pm


God bless you, Rick and Keith. I’m frequently struck by the grace-filled humility and charity of parents like you. Contrary to popular opinion, the parents I’ve met facing your situation never seem resentful. They’re likely too focused on loving their children.



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Betty

posted July 18, 2005 at 3:07 pm


Keith,
I would have loved seeing the pics of your daughter, but the link didn’t work for me…I too have a daughter with Down Syndrome who has been an incredible blessing to our entire familly! I am very sad so many people abort their children, but I know fear is often at the root of such a decision. “They know not what they do,” very similarly to the soldiers at Calvary–for those parents in a similar way do not realize who they are destroying and all they are losing! For those who just “can’t handle” the challenge, adoption is the way to go, never violence against the child.



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Anna

posted July 18, 2005 at 3:43 pm


“The Church does not live up to the principle of “in the face of uncertainty preserve life” in its teachings on ectopic pregnancy. That’s because the Church isn’t uncertain, of course.”
“still believe that the church teaching’s on ectopic pregnancy are immoral”
An ectopic pregnancy located in the fallopean tube which is not interrupted (medically or spontanously) can, unlike other “medical complications”, only have one effect: the mother dies at the latest in the 12th week, when of course the embryo (I apologize for using this word, but it IS an embryo, not a baby, which doesn’t imply that it isn’t a human life) is not viable outside — can’t write “the womb” since it was never there. Appying the principle of double effect, the holy Catholic Church allows “indirect abortion” in such a case, that is the tube can be removed to save the womans life, of which the removal of the embryo is an indirect result.
I don’t understand what is immoral about that?



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Susan Peterson

posted July 18, 2005 at 3:57 pm


My understanding is that ectopic pregnancy can be treated by removing the fallopian tube..and thus regrettably but unavoidably ending the life of the baby. The intention is not to end the life within it but to prevent the life- threatening medical emergency which occurs when the tube ruptures. This is the same reason as that which allows a cancerous uterus to be removed even though the woman is pregnant. The intention is to remove the diseased part and the death of the embryo is an unfortunate and unintended side effect. Some day maybe it will be possible to remove the growing life from the fallopian tube and encourage it to grow in the womb, and at that point it would become a moral wrong not to do this when removing the threatened tube.
The way Katherine’s post is worded it sounds as if she thinks the Church teaches that an ectopic pregnancy must continue until the tube ruptures and the baby dies and then we can try to save the mother. I don’t believe this is the case.
On the other hand there is no disease condition which the birth control pill or the morning after pill treat. The morning after pill is not wrong -in the case of rape only-if it can be determined that the woman has not ovulated yet, in which case it would prevent ovulation rather than preventing implantation. Alicea of Fructus Ventris a few months ago posted or linked to a protocol used by a Catholic hospital to make this distinction.
The moment when human life begins wasn’t evident to St. Thomas because he knew nothing about genetics and almost nothing about embryology. Once one knows about what happens at conception, there really isn’t any basis for doubt. After that, it is alive, it is human, it is a unique individual. I don’t think we are even asking a secular government to protect that life because it “has a soul.” It is enough that it is human, and alive, and a unique individual. To talk about when it first has brainwaves or first feels pain is to open ourselves up to an infinite series of devalutions of the humanity of the severely cognitively disabled, the comatose, etc. It may be that abortion later on in pregnancy is a worse moral crime because there are aggravating circumstances in that the unborn can now feel pain, or experience a primitive desire to go on living, or because it is now more certain that without interference it would have soon been born, but these are akin to the aggravating circumstances which make some murders of born human beings worse crimes than others.
I admit if one uses the imaginative faculty rather than the logical faculty, it is hard to think of something as small as or smaller than the period in rather small type, as human. But why should the imaginative faculty take precedence?
Susan Peterson



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john c

posted July 18, 2005 at 4:22 pm


Anna shouldn’t apologize for using the word embryo, and Katherine’s statement, they disagree about whether a fetus is an infant, is just wrong. Nobody thinks a fetus is an infant. We all were infants; before that we were fetuses, and before that we were embryoes, and before that we were zygotes. We were always human beings from the moment we existed. Basically, abortion rights = age discrimination, and so-called eugenic abortion is age and ability discrimination. Talk of ensoulment needlessly confuses the issue.



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mark

posted July 18, 2005 at 4:44 pm


To be sure, to talk about “when life begins” is misleading. Life is a continuum and, technically, “life” began a long, long, long time ago and has, since then, been passed on to the next generation and the next and the next. I am unaware of ANY case of spontaneous creation of “life” in and of itself in the last few million years. That is to say, “life” per se does not begin at conception, but long before conception. It is a living sperm that joins with a living ovum — it is a continuing process — and thereby a new and unique individual is formed. Never has there been a case of a dead sperm or dead ovum joining with the other to form a living entity. It is only in the sense that a new entity is formed, separate from all others, that it can be said that “life begins” at that point. And because it is a living human sperm, joining with a living human ovum, that that the new entity is an individual living human being. These are all scientific facts, and they do not require accepting “the Catholic Church’s teaching on the subject of the moment of life’s beginning.”
Now, if someone wishes to go further, one can turn to such teaching, and learn that God also plays a part in this creative process, continuing the miracle that is life, and infusing that life with a spirit, a soul. And notwithstanding Justice Blackmun’s struggles with the question, the matter of “ensoulment” should be fairly clear when one considers the infallible teaching on the Immaculate Conception. It is from the moment of conception that Mary was free of original sin, and because that condition refers to the soul, it must have been present from the moment of conception in order to then be immaculate.
But, this is where too many pro-lifers get side-tracked. Few, very few, abortion advocates will, deep in their hearts, deny that the entity in the womb is a living human person — they cannot, because it is scientifically undeniable. But pro-lifers continuing to try to find the perfect proof are wasting their time. Pro-aborts continue to deny the humanity of the unborn, not because they do not believe it, but because their entire position is a lie, and they are not interested in truth, but in imposing their god-like wills upon the world.



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phil

posted July 18, 2005 at 5:22 pm


Neumayr is apparently saying that it is better for some of us to be born with Tay-Sachs disease or without a complete brain (anencephaly)? Just who would he wish that on?
It is fallacious to say that the disabled would be better off if they were not born. Just where would they be while they enjoy their better off state?
You can love the disabled person and at the same time hate the disability. Nobody is advocating genocide for the disabled.
What makes a healthy infant a consumer product? Who would choose to have an unhealthy infant?



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susan

posted July 18, 2005 at 6:13 pm


Kevin, you write…
“But the article points to several lawsuits by persons who sued because their “fetus” was not screened properly so presumably they could not abort.”
This is true and happening all over the country. I had to find a new OB-GYN so I wouldn’t be required me have fetal testing done since I was over 35. Many of my friends have told me the same thing. I’ve only heard of one or two doctors in this bible belt city that do not require it. My new OB=GYN being one of them. He is very active in the pro-life movement locally.



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MrsDarwin

posted July 18, 2005 at 6:19 pm


Phil,
I suffered a miscarriage about three months ago. It was fairly early on, so there’s no way of knowing what went wrong, or if there were serious genetic problems, or what. But I’ll tell you this: I’d rather have my baby alive with me, even if he or she were disabled or had Down’s Syndrome, or died hours after birth because of anencephaly, then to have lost it without ever having a chance to know it. God gives other gifts than perfect health or superior intellect.
So yes, I would choose to have an unhealthy infant, rather than no infant at all.



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phil

posted July 18, 2005 at 6:31 pm


Mrs Darwin,
Your choice. Much happiness to you.



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Scotus

posted July 18, 2005 at 8:23 pm


Phil,
I can’t tell at all what you’re trying to say here:
Neumayr is apparently saying that it is better for some of us to be born with Tay-Sachs disease or without a complete brain (anencephaly)? Just who would he wish that on?
I don’t at all get the impression that he’s saying it’s ‘better’ for some people to be born disabled. Surely everyone would be happy if there were no such thing as genetic defects. What he is saying, however, is that given that genetic defects exist, it is better to accept such people lovingly and care for them than to kill them because we can’t be bothered to exert the effor to take care of them.
Nobody is advocating genocide for the disabled.
If you abort 80% of a given group, isn’t that something very like genocide? Or are you saying that post-natal people with disabilities are worthy of life, but pre-natal ones are not?
What makes a healthy infant a consumer product? Who would choose to have an unhealthy infant?
No one wishes his or her child to be otherwise than healthy, but just because someone does not actively wish her child to be disabled does not mean that she should, should the child prove to be disabled, kill it. That would be a cold, hard “love” if I ever heard one.



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Donald R. McClarey

posted July 18, 2005 at 9:06 pm


“God gives other gifts than perfect health or superior intellect.”
Quite correct MrsDarwin. My wife and I have learned more about love from our experiences with our autistic son than I ever dreamed possible. What some would call a curse from God others can perceive as a blessing. Our boy has truly been a blessing for us and his siblings. My sincere condolences on your loss.



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Kristi Vega

posted July 18, 2005 at 9:46 pm


I am in fact a mom who was faced with an “incompatible with life” diagnosis. As shocked and devastated and afraid as we were to find out our child had anencephaly and would die soon after birth, if she was even born live,
neither of us for a second wanted to terminate. And I say now that we were fortunate to be in a Nsvy hospital, where they don’t do abortions for any reason, so they put no pressure on us to terminate.
That is not the case at civilian hospitals, as I have found out from dozens of other moms I’ve met who have given birth to anencephalic babies. Most of them were told they “should” terminate the pregnancy. Genetic counselors and OBs tell women they are better off terminating, they scare women by exaggerating the baby’s appearance, and often women are whisked away to L&D on the spot, while still in shock.
We carried to term, of course, and our baby girl, Hope Isabella, lived three days. We loved our precious baby, and my heart aches for the babies whose moms close off their hearts to loving their imperfect children.
While carrying Hope, I had this sad fear, one I didn’t dare voice to anyone–I feared that I might be glad that my baby’s defect was fatal. Was I glad that we wouldn’t be spending our life caring for a disabled child? And wasn’t that horrible of me to think? I got used to the grief of knowing I’d lose my baby, but I sometimes imagined the what ifs . . . what if it was spina bifida instead? In a way that seemed scarier. But after Hope’s birth, as I sat holding her, the head of the NICU came by to visit and brought his 3 yr old daughter who has DS. And while we talked, I told him about the fear I’d had. And then sobbed as I told him that once I held my baby, I knew I would gladly do anything I could for the rest of my life if only she would live and I could take her home.
Fear is always huge when getting news about a disability. Denial, avoidance, and rejection are normal defensive reactions. THat’s why we are supposed to have established morals and principles to guide our actions. To take over when our fear overwhlmes us, so that we know what is right, not just what gives us relief at the moment.
Advising ‘eugenic abortions’, or whatever you want to call it, gives in to the fear. What we have now is a culture that encourages the fear, and gives in to it. Fear of disabilities, deformaties, old age, dementia–we fear it, naturally. But we are supposed to love through it. Not take the quickest escape, and get rid of it.
I keep saying that the most important thing this loss has taught me is that the opposite of love is not hate. It is fear.



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Kristi Vega

posted July 18, 2005 at 9:48 pm


I am in fact a mom who was faced with an “incompatible with life” diagnosis. As shocked and devastated and afraid as we were to find out our child had anencephaly and would die soon after birth, if she was even born live,
neither of us for a second wanted to terminate. And I say now that we were fortunate to be in a Navy hospital, where they don’t do abortions for any reason, so they put no pressure on us to terminate.
That is not the case at civilian hospitals, as I have found out from dozens of other moms I’ve met who have given birth to anencephalic babies. Most of them were told they “should” terminate the pregnancy. Genetic counselors and OBs tell women they are better off terminating, they scare women by exaggerating the baby’s appearance, and often women are whisked away to L&D on the spot, while still in shock.
We carried to term, of course, and our baby girl, Hope Isabella, lived three days. We loved our precious baby, and my heart aches for the babies whose moms close off their hearts to loving their imperfect children.
While carrying Hope, I had this sad fear, one I didn’t dare voice to anyone–I feared that I might be glad that my baby’s defect was fatal. Was I glad that we wouldn’t be spending our life caring for a disabled child? And wasn’t that horrible of me to think? I got used to the grief of knowing I’d lose my baby, but I sometimes imagined the what ifs . . . what if it was spina bifida instead? In a way that seemed scarier. But after Hope’s birth, as I sat holding her, the head of the NICU came by to visit and brought his 3 yr old daughter who has DS. And while we talked, I told him about the fear I’d had. And then sobbed as I told him that once I held my baby, I knew I would gladly do anything I could for the rest of my life if only she would live and I could take her home.
Fear is always huge when getting news about a disability. Denial, avoidance, and rejection are normal defensive reactions. THat’s why we are supposed to have established morals and principles to guide our actions. To take over when our fear overwhlmes us, so that we know what is right, not just what gives us relief at the moment.
Advising ‘eugenic abortions’, or whatever you want to call it, gives in to the fear. What we have now is a culture that encourages the fear, and gives in to it. Fear of disabilities, deformaties, old age, dementia–we fear it, naturally. But we are supposed to love through it. Not take the quickest escape, and get rid of it.
I keep saying that the most important thing this loss has taught me is that the opposite of love is not hate. It is fear.



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andrew messaros

posted July 18, 2005 at 9:57 pm


Phil,
I’d like to underscore what Scotus said above, and add to it. There is a dominant notion in today’s culture that one has the ‘right’ to ‘choose’ the kind of life s/he wants to live, and ONLY the kind chosen. Of course I would never choose to have a spinal cord injury, or a stroke, or a million other disabilities. But that doesn’t mean that (a) I have a ‘right’ to end my life, (b) others have the ‘right’ or obligation to end my life for me, or (c) that the purpose or destiny that God has for my life is now diminished or twarted in any form.
Because the choosing the kind of life that you want to live is completely impossible to secure, it is not a right at all. You, therefore, have no authority to terminate the life of an unborn child with any disability because -you- fear the rough road ahead.
There is no dancer without gravity, the downward pull. And as a physical therapist who treats severely disable people for a living, I can tell you that we so-called “able-bodied” folk have alot to learn from folks with disabilities and their families!



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Paula JL

posted July 18, 2005 at 10:57 pm


Kristi Vega. God bless you.



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Septimus

posted July 18, 2005 at 11:10 pm


Don’t parents who elect abortion because they anticipate the child will be born with a disability have a duty to consider what the CHILD wants? After all, whose “disability” is it? This, of course, is not a high enough standard; but it seems to me the “I’m doing it for the baby” argument should not be left unchallenged: “Really? You think the baby wants to be aborted?”



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scotch meg

posted July 18, 2005 at 11:56 pm


It’s so important to remember that even children who appear to be born “perfect” may not be… I have a child whose heart condition became evident at 9 months. My husband, as a neurologist, sometimes sees children who have developed seizure disorders during their elementary school years. Schizophrenia and many other mental disorders appear in the teens and twenties. MS becomes symptomatic even later in life. If we abort all those who seem so imperfect (like my husband’s cousin with DS), how are we prepared to deal with the imperfections that appear post-natally? How are we prepared to deal with imperfections which appear as the result of accidents or human actions?



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Tragic Christian

posted July 19, 2005 at 12:34 am


I’ve been loving the stories about the people who decided to bring their kids to term.
We have two special needs kids: my younger daughter has DS, and my son has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. We didn’t get prenatal testing for Dot (altho’ the ultrasounds were highly suggestive of Downs), and my wife and I both said that it didn’t matter how she turned out — abortion was out of the question for both of us — we’ll love her anyway (and we’re Episcopalian, btw). While we were fortunate that she didn’t have heart problems, she did have intestinal blockage that required major surgery at two weeks. We’re also very fortunate that she seems to be high functioning — but she’s very active, social, our bright and shining star and a delight to everyone who knows her.
And, Scotch Meg, unfortunately, some people (notably Prof. Peter Singer of Princeton) have said it should be perfectly all right to kill your disabled child up to a certain age. I think he would have said it would be OK to kill my DMD son before he turned 3. (snark on) Unfortunately, darn, he comes off as a person, not a fungible commodity, so I think we’ll keep him (/snark off).



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Maureen

posted July 19, 2005 at 11:06 am


Interesting stuff, but can I posit a question on 6FU?
First of all, I find it curious that the entire story line about the Fisher’s church life has been eliminated. Ruth, David, and Keith were all active churchgoers in the early days. In the past episode when Ruth was talking about her emptiness, I thought of the seeming lack of spiritual life she has evidenced the past few seasons. Also, re: Brenda. Remember when she accepted Claire’s request to drive her to her abortion? Brenda’s response: “of course”. As has been pointed out before, the whole episode didn’t sugar-coat the process, but neither did Brenda made any effort to talk to Claire about her other options. Brenda’s metamorphosis into “I’m keeping this baby at all costs” is a little surprising, and I wish the writers would have explored it more. How do women who have either aided in an abortion or had one themselves face the impact of their prior choices once they are “ready” to have a baby? It is heartbreaking, and would make for good material.



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Dan LaHood

posted July 19, 2005 at 12:58 pm


Compared to God we are all handicapped.



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mayangrl

posted July 19, 2005 at 1:04 pm


You can blame politicians if you want, but the fact is that “fetal defect” is one of those types of abortion overwhelming numbers of Americans would like to keep legal. The law is unlikely to change in this regard without a fundamental way in the way Americans typically think about human life and morality.
Kudos to Carolyn and Katherine for being honest, and the above quote for hitting the nail on the head.
Interesting, I was just thinking of this topic recently. We have 3-4 older DS adults (50s) at our church who come to Mass with their elderly parents. I saw a DS child for the first time last month, and it really struck me as weird. Then I realized I’m just not used to seeing them, and I figured so few people carried them to term.
I have to say, the DS adults we have at church are probably not a good “selling point” to expecting parents faced with this issue. You don’t want to think of yourself as elderly and still caring for your disabled child. And what will happen to them after you die, or can no longer care for them?
Simimlar to Kristi, I like to think I would do the right thing if I ever found out I was expecting a disabled child, but that fear keeps me wondering if I really would. I think most people have this fear.
I have a friend who has an autistic older brother now nearing 60. Their whole lives have revolved around this brother and his needs. Just until recently, the elderly fraile motehr, nearing 90, was taking care of him alot; then he moved in with his brother. She’s a Kansas Republican, but she’s solidly pro-choice because of her life’s experiences. She loves her son and would have him all over again if given the chance. But she knows not everyone is capable of making those sacrifices.
(Since 80% of these children are aborted, it isn’t only the godless liberals doing it.)
My point? This will be a difficult area in which to change people’s minds and hearts. And referring to them as Nazi’s isn’t going to accomplish anything.
We have to let them know it can be done, and that, I believe this is crucial, the state will be there to help when help is needed. We have to admit that this often can’t be accomplished alone. We can’t ask people to do the nigh impossible and expect them to go it alone.



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carolyn

posted July 19, 2005 at 1:18 pm


I have 5 healthy kids and had 2 miscarriages. I always prayed that if anything were to go wrong with any of my kids healthwise please God make it so severe they wouldn’t make it to birth or if not, not live long. I had 3 friends who between them had a stillbirth and 2 babies that lived only a few months. Their pain was awful but not so awful as it would have been if those babies lived.
I once had a miscarriage at 18 weeks a few weeks after the dr. had difficulty picking up a heartbeat and the ultrasound technician found an anomaly in the brain that was fatal. For my surviving kids this was the “baby that died”. I told them that this was fate but that God was very kind to me.
Kind to them too.



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Kristi Vega

posted July 19, 2005 at 2:20 pm


“I always prayed that if anything were to go wrong with any of my kids healthwise please God make it so severe they wouldn’t make it to birth or if not, not live long. I had 3 friends who between them had a stillbirth and 2 babies that lived only a few months. Their pain was awful but not so awful as it would have been if those babies lived.”
I can imagine how one might say that before actually giving birth to a severely disabled child. You are talking about a theoretical. Talking about a life of sacrifice. No one wants sacrifice just for the sake of sacrifice. I say I feared having a disabled child to take care of for my whole life. But when my baby girl was born, and I held her little body and saw her sweet lips and kissed her sweet toes, I realized that love changes EVERYTHING. No, you don’t want to sacrifice your whole life to care for some future disabled child. But when it is the child you hold in your arms, flesh of your flesh, who you love as your own–love conquers fear. Then you are just a mother who wants to give their child every bit of life and love in your power to give. When the baby is no longer a theory, but your own babe in arms, you know, you see their personhood. And you love.
That’s why people abort. Even Christians, even Catholics. Scarier than anything else is knowing that once you love your baby, you will be compelled to do what love demands. The people who choose to abort do it fast, before they start loving their baby.
That is why fear is the greatest opponent to love. Parents need help to overcome their fear and choose love. The ‘escape’ is NEVER moral. Of course we fear suffereing, but there is purpose in heartbreak. For those who embrace love and the sacrifice that comes with it, their capacity for love is forever so much greater. I know my broken heart is so much bigger now.



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Tim

posted July 19, 2005 at 2:26 pm


The law is unlikely to change in this regard without a fundamental change in the way Americans typically think about human life and morality.
Or until they develop a test to predict the sexual orientation of an embryo and people start aborting for the “fetal defect” of GLBTG orientation. Then you’ll see the protests and the laws changing, though sadly I predict they’ll be narrowly written to protect only those the protesters deem worthy.



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Anna

posted July 19, 2005 at 3:11 pm


Mayangrl said: “I like to think I would do the right thing if I ever found out I was expecting a disabled child, but that fear keeps me wondering if I really would. I think most people have this fear”
I certainly did, especially being of “a certain age” when pregnant. That’s why I didn’t want any prenatal screening. No one, whatever firm moral principles they have, can know what they would actually do in an extreme situation in which they have not yet been. I could not be sure that if I were to find out that the twins I was expecting at the age of 39 had DS, or some other more serious disability, and if my husband were to abandon me so I would face a future as a single mother and then next week I would lose my job and be without income, then maybe I would forget about my convictions and have an abortion. Or maybe I would stick to my convictions and not have an abortion, but feel bitterness against the Church and against God for not being “allowed” to have one. So I figured it was better not to know: if there was a disability, I would find out after the kids were born, and then I would just love them.
I do agree that it is crucial that the state offers financial and other support to families with disabled children.



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alicia

posted July 21, 2005 at 3:57 am


I recently wrote two basic articles on the topic of prenatal testing – you can find them over at the Spero Forum’s site at http://www.speroforum.com/site/subs.asp?idsub=120
scroll through and check it out.
Henci Goer wrote a secular book about this and other use of screening technology in pregnancy – also interesting reading. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0897894278/qid=1121936008/sr=2-2/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_2/002-6889943-5028053
Most parents come into the prenatal care system almost totally clueless about the meanings of the tests that they are offered. It can take almost the entire time allotted for a visit (remember, we’re on ‘production’ here – must see x patients per hour or you lose money – the high cost of medical care does NOT represent what those of us who give that care get paid) just to discuss the ramifications and fine points of testing. It is easier to say – “Here’s the test. You don’t have to get it but I have to offer it.” (and we do – it is state law in California and standard of care in all the USA). Most parents seek and expect reassurance – and are unprepared for what to do with the bad news when and if it happens.



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Anon Ymous

posted November 17, 2006 at 1:28 pm


I did this. I ended a pregnancy at 20 weeks for Trisomy 13. A defect not consistant with life. I did it to save my son from suffering NOT to save myself from raising him. PS There would be no “raising” involved. He’s have only lived a few hours. As a Catholic I was wrong to have done this. It was not and IS NEVER our call on when our children or anyone dies. THAT IS FOR GOD TO DECIDE! I hope a law is passed to prevent someone in distress and blindly listening to the medical professionals out there from making the grave moral mistake I made and for which I will never forgive myself.



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Ribsnikab

posted October 28, 2007 at 3:26 pm


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Cocuoupiexomi

posted November 8, 2007 at 10:07 am


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