The New York Times ran a front page, above the fold article recently titled, "Prenatal Test Puts Down Syndrome in Hard Focus." It seems that ACOG (The American College of OB/GYN's) you know, your friendly OB who gives pregnant women 25 mcg of mercury in that flu shot, is now offering a screening for Down syndrome to all women of any age - not just via amniocentesis, which is typically used only in women over age 35.
The article goes on to state, "About 90% of women given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion." Could that possibly be a true statistic? I suppose the OB's would know.
So according to the New York Times, there is a PR campaign underway by parents of kids with Down syndrome, trying to tell people that having a child with Down syndrome is OK. In short, "selling" Down syndrome to a nation that turns in its cars every 3 years, demands women never look a day older than 35, and that men dye their hair and beard to attract the older women who are trying to look younger.
This article is so disconcerting to me on many, many levels. Earlier this month I saw David Kirby speak to the CT Chiropractic Association about his book, Evidence of Harm. He's a frequent Huffington Post blogger on autism, vaccines, mercury and the pathetic state of research for our children. Then I came home to an email telling me that a dear friend's grand daughter was just diagnosed with autism at age 3. Another child. Another number. Another family's guts turned inside out.
Is a prenatal test for autism what Autism Speaks/NAAR has in mind with its unrelenting search for the genetics behind autism? Is this what it this huge charity is doing with the millions of dollars it has at its disposal (good word choice, yes?) I've made the analogy so many times: "What has knowing the chromosome that causes Down syndrome done for the Down population except cull the crop??"
The New York Times article confirmed my suspicions in black and white. And the letters to the editor that followed the next day chilled me to the bone. The majority were in favor of preventing the heartache and tribulations of giving birth to a special needs child. So I ask you this question: If we get to a point where if we can identify the fetuses with "problems," will society (and insurance companies and Social Security and schools) tell us, "Hey, pal, you had the bad baby, YOU take care of it. We gave you the chance to abort."
I'll let you in on two very personal secrets. One) I am pro-choice. Two) When I became pregnant with Bella, my OB (Dr. P.) knew Mia and Gianna had just been diagnosed with autism. Out of pure concern, he offered me the choice of an abortion. I understood where he was coming from. I appreciated his gentle laying out of the cards. Well, Miss Bella is tugging at my sleeve right now, so you know what choice I made.
I didn't even want the amniocentesis (I was 36 at the time.) I did end up having the test since Dr. P. explained it could find other problems that might require specialists in the delivery room. The amnio would help me be a better mother. I could accept that.
I can't accept a test to weed out the perceived undesirables so that Mummy and Daddy can have a perfect baby. Children are not appliances. They do not come with guarantees. I'm not talking about grossly deformed infants who do not have a chance for survival outside of the womb. I'm talking about children like the adorable 5 year old tot with Down Syndrome I met last week - who happens to have an older sister with autism.
If you'll excuse me, I'll abort this piece. I need to go hug my kids. My perfectly imperfect perfect children.
Follow Kim Stagliano on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KimStagliano