Nathan is Hebrew and means "gift from God" - we couldn't have been more blessed than to have been chosen as his parents!

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Does a woman's right to choose...(Part 1)

lead to the discrimination of the disabled? You decide.

The abortion of a fetus due to “serious physical or mental defects” is prohibited under Spanish statute, but a recent report found that even with these laws, 94.5% of such pregnancies are terminated. The birth of children with Down syndrome in Spain over the past fifteen years has been cut in half from 1 in 600 live births to 1 in 1,000. Has the Spaniard’s insatiable quest for perfection contributed to the increased incidence of abortion of the disabled?

Is it logical to consider such actions discrimination of disabled persons and therefore a criminal offense, or is it simply a woman’s right over her body? This report set off a fury within the Catholic Church and given an age old debate new significance.

Director Miguel Cruz of the Fudacion Vida in Spain called this “a silent and dramatic paradox” and he surmises that persons with Down syndrome are in danger of extinction. Spain is not alone.

Women around the globe are choosing to terminate their pregnancies once prenatal tests reveal a child has Down syndrome. In the United States, the Down syndrome termination rate is 92% - 1 in 733 children are born with the syndrome. Similar statistics are reported for France, Canada, and England.

Although, Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal anomaly, the high incidence of abortion in western countries is startling and disturbing. The facts show, that most children born with Down syndrome are born to parents who received the diagnosis postnatal.

What is it about children with special needs that’s so awful or scary that women are opting for such dramatic measures?

Find out tomorrow...


Lianna said...

You know, I remember waivering back and forth between "Can I do this?" and "I can do this!" -- when we first learned about Gabe having Ds. There were many dark, dark moments for me, personally -- my marriage aside.

I have no regrets at all. My family is as it should be, including Gabriel having Down syndrome.

Having said that, I remember clearly being forced to volunteer at a local school for the developmentally challenged when I was in high school.

The gals in my home economics class were sent to volunteer at this school as part of the course credit. We helped out with activities, crafts and at lunch.

One of my more poignant and sharp memories was of sitting beside one little girl, who had Down syndrome, at one of the lunch tables. I could tell she was neglected. Her hair was greasy, her clothes dirty, and she was bone thin. For her lunch, she had a sandwich with mold on it -- as well as mold on the slice of luncheon meat in it.

In hindsight, I know now how unwanted that little girl must have been. Is it fair to bring someone into this world and deny them love, nutrition, warmth, and compassion? I ask myself this when I am dealing with the prenatal debate. Do we want people having children with disabilities only to disregard and neglect them? There are still many countries that don't have prenatal screening and who hide away people with disabilities into institutions...

Anyway, it is definitely a good question that you pose in your post.

My neighbour has cerebral palsey. She is independent, and although she is obviously affected by CP, she holds a good job and managed to get her driver's license when family and the government didn't want her to. She understands what it takes to be considered "equal" to typical society -- and she definitely understands how society can underestimate her ability and contributions to this life.

While hanging out with Gabriel on summer afternoon, she confessed that she and her husband decided against having chidren for fear of cerebral palsey.

I found this to be extremely interesting...

Terry Family said...

Thank you for your thoughtful post - to me there is another option - adoption. If I am not mistaken there is a waiting list in the U.S. for children with Down syndrome. People need to have more faith in themselves and God. We are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. You now know that.

I would personally never want to see a child treated in that manner - it broke my heart just to read that but I think that today institutions or special schools would have prevented the continued neglect of that child. At least I pray that would be the case.