Saturday, May 12, 2007

re: "Prenatal Test Puts Down Syndrome in Hard Focus"

There certainly appears to be a growing disregard for the sanctity of the lives of persons with Down Syndome. As per "Prenatal Test Puts Down Syndrome in Hard Focus" (5/9/07 NY Times), some parents are trying to counteract this:

"About 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion. Convinced that more couples would choose to continue their pregnancies if they better appreciated what it meant to raise a child with Down syndrome, a growing group of parents is seeking to insert their own positive perspectives....The parent evangelists are driven by a deep-seated fear for their children’s well-being in a world where there are fewer people like them....

"The focus on the unborn is new for most parent advocates, who have traditionally directed their energy toward support for the born. But after broader testing was recommended in January, the subject began to hijack agendas at local support group meetings. A dwindling Down syndrome population, which now stands at about 350,000, could mean less institutional support and reduced funds for medical research. It could also mean a lonelier world for those who remain....

"The 5,500 children born with Down syndrome each year in the United States suffer from mild to moderate mental retardation, are at high risk for congenital heart defects and a variety of other medical problems, and have an average life expectancy of 49....But the richness of their children’s lives, parent advocates say, is poorly understood. Early medical intervention and new expertise in infant heart surgery stave off many health problems; legally mandated inclusion in public schools has created opportunities for friendship and fostered broader social awareness of the condition....

[Some parents] "see themselves as society’s first line of defense against a use of genetic technology that can border on eugenics. 'For me, it’s just faces disappearing,' said Nancy Iannone, of Turnersville, N.J., mother to four daughters, including one with Down syndrome. 'It isn’t about abortion politics or religion, it’s a pure ethical

"many parents see expanded [prenatal] testing as a step toward a society where children like theirs would be unwelcome. The Newsweek columnist George F. Will labeled it a 'search and destroy mission' for a category of citizens that includes his adult son, Jon Will."

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