Sunday, May 29. 2011
Sam and the Perfect World by David Lenz, father of Sam who has Down Syndrome
Humans are a predictable species. The more we know about something, the less it scares us. The more we interact with different people the less prejudice guides our words and actions. From people of another color, to the elderly, to the sick and dying, the more we engage, the less we judge on preconceived notions.
What does this have to do with abortion? Everything. When 90% of babies with Down Syndrome are aborted, it means a 90% less chance of ever meeting someone with Down Syndrome. 90% less chance of understanding how wonderful a person with Down Syndrome is. 90% less chance of understanding that an extra chromosome 21 does not define or negate a person.
Instead we have a world that is nearly Down Syndrome-less. Some would say that was better. Better for the aborted baby and better for the people with Downs that make it out of the womb. I disagree. Instead, we have thousands of dead Downs babies and for the ones that survive, a world that has erroneous preconceived notions about what it is to have Down Syndrome. This creates an environment where people say the most hurtful things about the children and the families of those with Downs.
Case in point: Larry Flynt who said the following about Sarah Palin's son Trig:
Or liberal blogger Jack Stuef when he wrote the following at Wonkette:
Clearly neither Flynt nor Stuef has ever met anyone with Down Syndrome, and with the vast majority of people with Downs never seeing the light of day, they likely never will. You might say that Flynt and Stuef are the fringe exception. Except they are not. Elizabeth R. Schiltz, Associate Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, wrote the following for Business Week:
From time to time, we are all confronted with the disconnect between how we see ourselves and how others see us. I've always seen myself as a responsible, law-abiding citizen. I recycle, I vote, I don't drive a Hummer. But I've come to realize that many in the scientific and medical community view me as grossly irresponsible. Indeed, in the words of Bob Edwards, the scientist who facilitated the birth of England's first test-tube baby, I am a "sinner." A recent book even branded me a "genetic outlaw." My transgression? I am one of the dwindling number of women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome and choose not to terminate our pregnancies.
So any mother that chooses to love and nurture her Down Syndrome child instead of ripping it from her womb is a "genetic outlaw?" Patricia Bauer experienced being seen as a "genetic outlaw" at her local park with her daughter Margaret. She recounted the experience in The Washington Post:
She was a fresh-faced young woman with a couple of adorable kids, whiling away an hour in the sandbox at the park near my home. So was I, or so I thought. New in town, I had come to the park in hopes of finding some friends for myself and my little ones.Still not convinced? Read this quote from Lori B. Andrews, a reproductive rights lawyer, from her book The Clone Age:
A woman I know was told by her obstetrician that her fetus had Down syndrome. The doctor ordered her to abort, she refused.... Another woman was similarly coerced. Her doctor told her that her baby would be more like a fish than a human and would only be as smart as a baboon.Society has a prejudice against people with Down Syndrome, of that I have no doubt. But the widespread abortion of children with Down Syndrome is not just a symptom of that prejudice, it magnifies it. The more children with Downs are aborted the more the ones we see have to justify their existence. This is an unacceptable reality for both society and for the people with Downs and their families. No one should ever have to justify NOT killing their child in the womb. No child with Down Syndrome should ever have to explain that they are more than just a "virtual vegetable."
Abortion doesn't just magnify the prejudice against people with genetic disorders, it magnifies whatever prejudice festers in society. Beyond the reality that Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States, was an outspoken racist, we only need to look globally. Many eastern countries a have a deep seeded preference for boys in their culture. Which means a prejudice against girls. In India, it is estimated that 12 million girls have been aborted simply because they were girls. And this is not just isolated to India. From The Economist:
And with a gender imbalance in favor of males comes a large population of unmarried men. In the next decade, that unmarried Chinese male population will be the same as the entire population of males in America. With these 'bare branches" as the bachelors are called, comes a higher rate of violent crime including bride abduction, the trafficking of women, rape and prostitution. So women are not only being killed in the womb, but also abused outside the womb. And the trend will only get worse.
One commenter on this blog said that I should not blame abortion for the gendercide of girls, I should blame instead the cultures that need some education and feminism. My answer was to point out that since abortion is the thing that kills, I blame the abortion. Abortion magnifies the prejudices of every society and no amount of reeducation will eliminate that. When we "discover" the "genes" for obesity, then future obese will be on the chopping block. And so will homosexuals and other "undesirables." Abortion always marginalizes the weakest, most "unwanted" segment of society and then makes the prejudice worse. It always will.
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Abortion makes it easier to have the imbalance-- killing children who were disabled or female is far from unheard of, but it's much easier (in a wide range of considerations) if it's done before the child is born.
Obviously these people never saw the TV series "Life goes on" with Chris Burke.
Hi this is David Lenz, my painting is featured at the top of this blog post. While I agree with the thesis of the post, some parts of the argument gave me pause. Here are a few thoughts.
1. I have found that discrimination against people with disabilities is equal among the entire political spectrum. For example, here in Wisconsin we have a prolife, very conservative governor who is cutting all kinds of programs designed to help people with disabilities. Many of the most beneficial programs for people with disabilities were designed and put into place by liberals.
2. When discussing this topic, you should always remember to keep the person first. Instead of “Downs baby” you should say a “baby with Down syndrome.” The condition should not define the person, and should not come first, in the same way you would not say a “breast cancer mom.”
3. I hope this strong advocacy for people with Down syndrome continues after they are born. School choice is a favorite topic for many conservatives, yet here in Wisconsin, choice schools are allowed to discriminate against kids with disabilities. Choice schools, who use tax payer money, can choose not to accept children with disabilities, or if they accept them, decline to not provide needed support services; aids, therapies, adapted curriculums.
The biggest offender in this regard, is the Catholic Church. Not only are people with disabilities not provided adaptive services so they can attend Catholic schools, they do not provide adaptive religious education either. One local priest recently said, “there is no need for that in our parish, we don’t have any disabled people here.” The ignorance of that statement is stunning, and it shows how complete their discrimination has been. In that parish, the people with disabilities are out of sight, and therefore they don’t even exist.
Thank-you so much for commenting. I am honored that you took the time.
I agree about the wording in regards to describing people with genetic disorders. I do make a conscious effort to keep the person first. But sometimes when writing it becomes redundant to say "baby with Down Syndrome." I will try harder in the future to make sure that I do that even in a long post.
I also agree that discrimination comes in all political flavors. There are plenty of Republicans that favor aborting anyone with any kind of genetic defect. But I believe supporting the "right" to kill any fetus for any manner of disability no questions asked is a much worse crime than not funding programs for the disabled.
As for your local Catholic Parish, I agree that many Catholic parishes fall short. I know mine does. It is a human institution after all. I know that many Catholic Parishes are struggling financially. My parish school can barely buy paper, so providing special education that is provided by the public school down the street is not feasible. Do not forget that it is the Catholic Church and Catholics as a whole that are the fiercest defenders of all life and they will stand up for the lives of those with Down Syndrome or any other genetic disorder.
I agree the church does many great things, and it is a human organization, and imperfect.
A few years ago, our local parish raised $250,000 to buy a new handmade traditional pipe organ to replace the old one. And recently raised $30,000 to install air conditioning to a church that did just fine without it for 100 years. The Milwaukee Archdioceses has 250 paid religious education directors, and not one paid position to support religious education for those with special needs.
It is a question of priorities. They have access to plenty of money, people with disabilities are simply not important enough to rate funding.
Well, that is a sad state. I agree that Catholic Churches in the United States really are not good at religious education in general. I think most parishes do need a religious ed overhaul! That is why I do all my religious ed for my kids at home. Thank-you for pointing that out!
I think I get what you are trying to say. I misread that you live in a "choice school" state. I don't, so I misunderstood. If a Catholic School is given funding for a special needs child and refuses to admit them or accommodate them, then I agree that is discrimination. The reality is that many Catholic school now are only Catholic in name and not in principles. I wish that were not the case but many have abandoned their Catholic ideals and have become just academic elitists. I pulled my kids out of Catholic school for that reason. Very sad and frustrating indeed.
"The biggest offender in this regard, is the Catholic Church. Not only are people with disabilities not provided adaptive services so they can attend Catholic schools, they do not provide adaptive religious education either. "
If it's any consolation, that's changing for the better in some places. Last year my parish tested a small catechism program for area children with special needs, and this year will be expanding it greatly. While it doesn't handle the schooling issue, it's a start.
1) Making other people pay for X is not supporting them; removing forced support for X is not discrimination.
3) Forcing other people to do what you would prefer is not supporting X group; allowing people to offer different options is not discriminating against X group.
I find it darkly amusing that actual killing of those with disabilities is put on the level of not forcing others to do what you want for support.
The reality is: people with disabilities need extra help. They simply cannot survive in this world, after they are born, without extra help. Sometimes parents are not able to do everything, provide for all their needs. I find it amazing that you fight for them when they are unborn, then after birth, coldly say… now you are on your own.
When a child is not accepted to a school because of a disability, that is discrimination plain and simple.
I would never say that "they are on their own." I teach science at a quite a large Catholic homeschool coop that has 2 kids with Down Syndrome and we will welcome anyone. I cannot speak for all Catholic schools but I think it is not that they do not WANT to teach special needs kids it is that some Catholic schools do not have the resources or staff to give special needs kids the help they need. And they cannot get state funding to do that because of the religious affiliation.
I think what I am trying to point out is that the more abortion kills children with genetic disorders the less help there will be AND the more the general population will be prejudiced against them. That is NOT permission to neglect the ones that survive. It is instead a statement of their value to society.
I find it amazing that you are willing to give government the power to enforce your desires and not consider that it could so easily be turned against you.
You do not trust people to offer those with disabilities a helping hand, but you do trust them to not enforce eugenics?
Clearly, you're not too rational-- you know nothing about me, and yet feel free to accuse me of being "cold" and "indifferent" for not agreeing with your notion that letting the government force actions related to the disabled is a great idea, and you are still equating DEATH with a lack of legally enforce support.
In response to a post that includes the story of a woman lamenting that the mother of a Down's syndrome kid (used the same way I'd say a red haired kid, a German kid, a tall kid, or even a rocker kid-- a descriptor of the group involved, used in the standard English form) didn't do the "right thing" and get an amino, an assumption based on the fact that she didn't kill her baby, you assume that the commenting woman would somehow have an issue with enforcing the "right" choice on the woman.
I'm sure you know of the pressures put on women who get an "anomalous" amino test, even given the inaccuracies involved. I hope you're aware of the pressures on the parents of disabled children who have a worse survival rate than folks with Down's, to abandon medical treatment or remove food and water entirely.
Eugenics is such an ugly word because it's such a clean way of saying "kill off those I do not want around." "Abortion" is much like "eugenics," especially if you can persuade people that it's in the best interest of those who are killed to never be born.
"Anomalous amino test, inconsistent with the possibility of a full life; termination scheduled for __" is far, far too easy to see happening. A child born with an undetected "anomaly"? Much better that they get professional care, isn't it? That the help happens to be an institution that's handily out of sight is just happenstance... and clearly you can't trust a fanatic that cared so little for their "future child" that they carried to term after an anomalous test. Better remove the child, and any other children they may have.
Didn't we go through this last century?
You are assuming many things about my position inaccurately. You are talking to a father of a child with Down syndrome, and my wife and I chose not to have any prenatal genetic testing. I have lived all these issues. In many ways I agree with you.
All I am saying is: don’t forget about them after birth.
Sorry all, but now I have to go…
The only assumption I made-- which I have admitted was a mistake-- was that you would recognize the difference between not legally forcing support and /death./
You, on the other hand, have repeatedly assumed that I think the disabled should be "abandoned" after birth, and you further assume that I did not figure out your kid has Down's.
Apparently, you also somehow came to the conclusion that I had a belief either way about your prenatal testing, or that it would be in the least bit relevant. I. Do. Not. Care. About. Your. Personal. Story. It has NOTHING to do with the validity of what you argue or claim, just as the "wrongful life" parents are no less wrong for having a disabled child.
Through all your assumptions, you STILL cannot seem to grasp that people can care about disabled people without thinking it wise to hand off authority on how they are treated.
Actually I never advocated for “handing off authority,” that would be ridiculous.
PS “I. Do. Not. Care. About. Your. Personal. Story.” sounds rather cold.
Now I really really have to go.
You most assuredly /do/ advocate handing off authority, by equating anything else with the active elimination of the group. I can understand why you don't want to think of using government force to get your desires as a loss of authority, but that is what it is, and the irrational assumption that no-one else will use that same power against your interests is simply breathtaking.
I don't care how pointing out that this isn't about you or your story "sounds" to you; I'm not surprised that something as basic as refusing to argue ad hominem would strike you as "cold".
Ironically, the same accusations are leveled on this topic all the time-- more commonly in the context of promoting the murder of the disabled, or merely those with unwanted characteristics. Inconvenient things like facts must be tossed aside in favor of SOUNDING nice.
Why bother with facts, when you can use personal attacks? Even if you must delve deep into your ignorance and make foolish assumptions to do so.
Abortion is an act out of fear of living with an unwanted child or bearing the role of being a mother. However, it is also an act due to not having any fear from God. Committing abortion means not caring about the consequences of this sin.
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