“A 2002 literature review of elective abortion rates found that 91–93% of pregnancies in the United States with a diagnosis of Down syndrome were terminated. Data from the National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register in the United Kingdom indicates that from 1989 to 2006 the proportion of women choosing to terminate a pregnancy following prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome has remained constant at around 92%.” And the stats, in 2009 thus far, remain consistent.
All life is sacred. The life of an individual whose body contains an extra chromosome on the 21st pair is sacred. Said life may be imposed with a different set of challenges, but sacred nevertheless.
I am not one to judge. The 91-93% of women who choose to terminate have their individual reasons for doing so and possess the individual right as well. But frankly, I think that the termination rate remains high because mothers (and fathers too) are not educated. I use the term “educated” in ambiguous terms though. They may very well be educated in the typical sense, but they do not understand, notwithstanding the challenges, just how very much love and how very much life a person with Down syndrome can possess and bestow upon those around him or her. Otherwise, why terminate?
Our family was made aware of Elliot’s enhancement following his grand entrance into the world at 32-weeks gestation. I had the typical tests. The ultrasounds (many ultrasounds) showed no markers. My obstetrician still to this day indicates that he did not see the traits even upon birth. Elliot was whisked away so exceedingly quickly to the NICU across town. The neonatologist made the call; the call which changed our lives; the call which changed our lives for the better.
I refused tests when I became pregnant with Isaac (Elliot was just a few months old). I knew better and to me, it did not matter.
Down syndrome is beauty in a very raw form. Pure beauty.
Cliché to those who are blessed to have a child with Down syndrome, but to others, a death sentence. A palpable death sentence, otherwise why terminate?
Mothers and fathers, and sisters and brothers, and anyone who knows well, a child or an adult with Down syndrome would agree: they are magnificent, enlightened human beings, brought to this terrain with a purpose. They see only beauty on earth, and through their sight we are free-thinking, we are more open-minded, we are loved and we love.
But to those who know nothing of the extra chromosome, the potential life is lost…lost in 91-93% of cases.
I know that the majority of the individuals who read this blog have a child or a relative with Down syndrome.
But, for those who do not, I have once again tried to write 31 posts. Unfortunately, this year, I have failed. Simple life got in the way.
October is Down syndrome Awareness Month. And every October, really every day, I try to educate.
I would like to believe that we live in a society that no longer practices Eugenics (through abortion). Maybe I should not go there, but does the biologist who founded the movement so many years ago still have influence? Why else was the 2007 recommendation made: “All pregnant women, regardless of their age, should be offered screening for Down syndrome, according to the Practice Bulletin issued by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).”
What really is a desirable trait and what really is a defect?
In my estimation, it is not for us to say. But what I do know is that if given the chance to take my Elliot’s extra chromosome away, I would not do so.
Life for my dear boy has not been easy from a medical standpoint. And really, it never will be. But yet, he pushes through. He smiles. His courage is unwavering. He does not complain. And he loves, so very unconditionally. Every day I learn something new. Every day I love a little more. My path is more beautiful than I ever imagined…