The right to have a perfect child

downMargaret Bauer was born with Down syndrome, an increasingly rare genetic disorder. Rare because it has been cured? No, rare because pre-natal testing has led an estimated 80-90% of pregnant women to abort these children before they are born.

Patricia Bauer, a former Washington Post reporter, has written a heartrending piece for the Post titled The Abortion Debate No One Wants to Have. (Thanks for this link go to Daniel Pulliam of Get Religion.)

Bauer questions what has become unquestioned medical and ethical doctrine since the advent of prenatal testing: A life with a disability is a life not worth living.

This is exactly the judgment that has been codified in the Netherlands as the Groningen Protocol, the only difference being that doctors there are making the very same judgments about young children, and are euthanizing them. (See my post on the issue here, from 3/dec/2004, and a related post on conjoined twins Brynleigh and Victoria, When Dreams Become Dust.)

Imagine. As Margaret bounces through life, especially out here in the land of the perfect body, I see the way people look at her: curious, surprised, sometimes wary, occasionally disapproving or alarmed. I know that most women of childbearing age that we may encounter have judged her and her cohort, and have found their lives to be not worth living.

To them, Margaret falls into the category of avoidable human suffering. At best, a tragic mistake. At worst, a living embodiment of the pro-life movement. Less than human. A drain on society. That someone I love is regarded this way is unspeakably painful to me.

… What I don’t understand is how we as a society can tacitly write off a whole group of people as having no value. I’d like to think that it’s time to put that particular piece of baggage on the table and talk about it, but I’m not optimistic.

What sort of society are we if we can only find love in our hearts for the beautiful people?

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Comments

  1. Charlie:

    I loved this article and linked to it on my site yesterday. I wish that more people would read it.

    Blessings in Christ,

    Mark

  2. Thank you for this post.

  3. Here’s another thought. Some of the women who have aborted their babies for this reason (how many of them?) are regretting their decision and seeing a child or even an adult with Down syndrome reminds them of that decision they made. Many may react by justifying what they did in an effort to lessen their pain.

  4. angelica says

    David seems very cute. I feel that everyone who has a child with Down Syndrome is the most blessed. It is great to have someone in your life who really loves you. When you wake up in the morning and know you look like crap they always seem to look at you as if you are the most beautiful person in the world. I love my brother Christopher who also has Down Syndrome. No matter how bad my day is I always end up with a smile on my face at the end of the day. Please keep in contact with me so we can discuss our miracles in our life.

  5. I imagine it would be difficult to affirmatively quantify on a balance sheet the cost-value of Down Syndrome people based on some measure of their utilitarian function. And yet, to know them, and I do know many, is to understand their unique value as human beings.

    Isn’t it sad how we place so much value on people who can score touchdowns or appear in a film, and so little on people who have the power evoke our kinder and nobler aspect.

  6. Anyone who thinks a child with down syndrome is anything less than a blessing can’t honestly believe in God. God does not make mistakes. He sees something in these parents that they themselves may not understand. My son Antonio is a miracle to me. I get up in the morning wondering what new thing he will teach me today. I thank God for my blessing and all that he has taught me.

    Proud mother to a 4 year old boy with Down Syndrome and Leukemia, Angela

  7. thanks for posting this it really helped me on my powerpoint for school !!

    thanks

  8. Thank you for sharing your stories. I am 22 weeks pregnant and just got the news yesterday that my screenings results are positive for Down Syndrome. This took me by surprise, as I am just 31 year old, with, to my knowledge, no family history of Down Syndrome. My honest emotions are fear and disappointment. But, I also know God is in the life’s driver’s seat — and either I trust Him or I don’t. Reading your stories make the possibility of my baby having Down Syndrome not so scary after all. Thank you all again.

  9. this is my welcome video for our new moms..and CONGRATULATIONS. Don’t worry about crying, it’s ok…we have to grieve for the baby we’re not having…then only can you celebrate the baby you ARE having.

    Molly Kate has been a blessing to our family in every way…don’t stress over it.

    I hope you’ve seen “Welcome to Holland” and i hope the link to my vid comes thru.

    Add me at facebook…eileen miller wilson, and come celebrate that joy that is our children.

    e & molly kate

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