by Elizabeth Tanguay
The latest fad these days in obstetrics is the Integrated Prenatal Screening test (IPS). Doctors may offer this screening, a combination of blood tests and nuchal translucency ultrasound, for neural tube defects and chromosomal anomalies to pregnant women over the age of 35. These tests can detect the probability of the fetus having spina bifida or Down syndrome. If the chance is greater than 1/200, the screen is considered positive and the parents are then offered further testing, such as chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis, which carry a small risk to the fetus. After this, if the fetus is deemed to have Down syndrome, or trisomy 18 or trisomy 13, the obstetrician will offer the parents the option to terminate the pregnancy. There is no real prenatal cure or treatment for Down syndrome, or trisomy 18 or trisomy 13 or spina bifida, except perhaps later in the pregnancy and in utero, which wouldn’t cure the problem, but would perhaps treat some of the heart, nerve and other organ defects. The reason obstetricians and family doctors offer this treatment so early is to give the parents a chance to abort.
Isn’t it strange, that in this post-Nazi, post-World War II age, in times when we have equal opportunity employers, disability benefits, special parking places for people with a disability, the Special Olympics and the Paralympics, that 90% of children with Down syndrome are aborted? Our modern, tolerant society that says that people with a disability are gifts to society would rather kill them than allow them to be born. This is a classic example of modern eugenics at work, as well as the consumer society we live in. We need to understand that children are not products to be consumed, items to purchase, the latest “thing” you must have: they are gifts, loaned to us for a short time to bring joy, laughter, simplicity, and wonder to the world.
But why would we want to rid the world of children with Down syndrome? The number of people who know a person with Down syndrome is decreasing, but those of us who know them can attest to their gentleness, sensitivity, friendliness, and their genuine love for other people. Parents of these children say that the whole family learns so much more from this child with a disability than they could ever imagine. A lesson we all need to learn is that those with genetic differences have just as much of a right to experience life, love and happiness as anyone else.
Check out these excellent articles written by Canadian parents of children who have Down Syndrome:
There’s no such thing as the perfect child
Our daughter’s Down syndrome has taken us on a beautiful journey
Adoption of children with Down syndrome is also increasingly popular: A demand for Down’s
Another great, touching article by the father of a man who has Down Syndrome.