Dear Today Show and MaterniT-21Plus

Actually neither the Today Show OR MaterniT-21 Plus Testing is very dear.  It’s been  a couple of days since I’ve felt calm  enough to write this post in any sort of a coherent way that didn’t involve a lot of not so nice words.  And to think I used to really like Matt Lauer.

A few days ago Matt Lauer of the Today show hosted a segment with a couple expecting a child.  This couple agreed to read their MaterniT-21 Plus Testing, a product of  Sequenom. results live on the air.

The Sequenom company chose to name their early testing product MaterniT-21Plus.   Does anything about that remind you of what Parker was born with?  T21.  Yup, this test is to give an early, very early warning as to whether the child you are carrying has Down syndrome.  The Plus refers to the fact that this also tests for Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13.

But they chose to highlight the Trisomy 21, Down syndrome.  I recently read that Down syndrome is the NUMBER ONE fear of any woman planning a pregnancy.

Yes, the NUMBER ONE fear of any woman contemplating a pregnancy is that they might have a child like Parker.  And here’s MaterniT-21Plus first in line to capitalize on that fear.  (Coincidence?  I think not.)


Even better the Today Show, and Matt Lauer just added major fuel to this fear.

The couple highlighted on the Today Show, received their testing results on live television.  Now, I totally understand wanting to know if you are carrying a child with one of the above listed Trisomies.  I understand the desires to have extra prenatal care in case you are carrying a beautiful little one with Down syndrome.  I didn’t have any prenatal testing simply because in my heart, I knew, Parker had Down syndrome.  Yeah, it sounds weird, but it is the absolute truth.

As the couple received the testing results, Matt Lauer states:  “Let’s get right to the good news.”  THE GOOD NEWS.  And guess what the GOOD NEWS is?

The Mom to be beams as she says; “We’re safe.  The baby does not have Down syndrome.”

This is where I sat there and had to wonder if I had actually heard this right.  Did Matt Lauer just tell the world that it was good news not to be pregnant with a child who has Down syndrome?  And did this Mom just tell the world how thrilled she was to be safe from Down syndrome?   Safe from what?

A little boy with Down syndrome in the snow.


A little boy with Down syndrome signing 'cold!'

Parker is signing ‘COLD!’

A little boy with Down syndrome smiling as he swings.

Safe from the intense love that I have for Parker?

Safe from the joy my son has brought to our entire family?

Safe from the beauty I never would have been privy to without a child with Down syndrome?

Sage from the opportunity to become a much better and stronger person who finally after over 40 years understands what is truly important in this world?

Safe from the miracles I’ve witnessed, the prayers I’ve felt, the indomitable spirit contained within the mere 40 pounds of Parker’s mortal body?

Safe from what?

Oh.  Safe from having a child like mine.  Took me a minute there.  (insert eye roll)

I’d like to ask Matt and the Today Show producers if they plan on offering up a segment showing the joy and vast potential a child with Down syndrome brings into the world with them.

I’ll never know I guess, because there’s no way in hell I could ever stomach sitting through one more Today Show episode.  In one short segment the Today Show and Mr. Lauer   set Down syndrome advocacy back on it’s ear about 100 years.  They just presented their views that having a child with Down syndrome is something to fear. 

I wonder how much MaterniT-21Plus paid the Today show for this segment.  And I wonder if the Today Show producers are bright enough to realize that more often than not, it’s the FEAR that leads to the abortion of a child with Down syndrome.

Chances are they really don’t care.

Either way,  there’s gonna be blood on your hands, Mr. Lauer.  How’s THAT for good news?


About Tammy and Parker

Special Needs Blogger, and homeschooling Mom, heavily involved in advocacy for all kids with special needs in Utah.


  1. Courtney says:

    Well said.The sad thing in our country is that most do not value LIFE. They value what they think is an “important” person, or a “normal” person…they cannot see the value in a life that may be a little different from theirs whether it be a child or an elderly person, or an adult with disabilities. God made people in His image and we should value life because HE created it.

  2. Janet says:

    Thanks for sharing. We all want a “healthy” child. The only health issues my son with autism has are related to his cleft lip/palate. Parker does have (major) health issues related to T-21. But just like ASD, Ds is a spectrum disorder. I know people with Ds who basically have no associated health issues.

  3. Wow. No idea. Thanks for posting. I do understand the trepidation for having a child that is “different”, and I will not say that it is not quite difficult at times. If I am honest I might say that I believe there is more pain having a child with Down syndrome. But there is just as much, IF NOT MORE joy as well!!!! I cannot even begin to say how distasteful this is. “We’re safe” ??? I won’t pretend that if I had such a test, and it was “negative” I wouldn’t’ve been relieved. I won’t pretend that. But I wouldn’t have done it on national television. But most of all, I can’t believe such a show would, as you indicated, basically, go out of their way, to TEACH people that having a child was something to fear. People have enough fears. Go out of your way to teach them that a child with Down syndrome, like ALL CHILDREN, is someone to LOVE. (I know EXACTLY what you mean when you say, you always knew in your heart!)

  4. many parants could handle a special baby and that baby wouldnt be raised probber
    who can handle it should get it but maybe its a safe for the chilren too if they would be born into a life where their parents cant take it

  5. Another thought. It is hard enough for people like us. Family. Friends. People with hearts.

    Did it ever occur to them that people with Down syndrome might be watching their show?

  6. Dani Trombino says:

    Very well written — I will keep on sharing your post — hugs & years from a fellow T21 mama of a beautiful angel

  7. Rebecca says:

    I have been a silent follower of your blog for five years…. In that time I have developed an incredible level of respect for the challenges you’ve faced and the courage with which you face them. In regards to this post however, I have to say I think you’ve missed the mark. It’s certainly understandable for an expectant mother to feel relieved to learn that her child does not have a potentially life threatening condition… You clearly love your son immensely amd you are a wonderful mother to him… But certainly you should understand that very few people would choose to face the challenges that you have with your beautiful boy.

    • Rebecca,

      First, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. And thanks for reading! It’s not so much the parents I have an issue with, as it is the producers and to an extent, Matt Lauer I have an issue with. I think this could have been handled in a much more positive way.

      My concern about this segment is that it did nothing but increase the fear of parents making a decision to carry a child with Down syndrome to term. This sort of fear does a lot of damage, from choosing to abort rather than adopt out, to increasing the pity shown when a child with Ds is born, to looking at Parker as someone who is less than his peers.

      Parker’s health issues are NOT the norm. I know many more kids with Ds who are born healthy than I do those who are trached and vented, and have PH, etc. The reason I’ve been so open on this blog is to show that if Parker’s life, even with all his medical challenges, can be as worth living as it is, imagine what the life of a typical kid with Ds can be like? Because so many believe an extra chromosome means a child should not even have the opportunity to be born.

      There’s no doubt in my mind that the way the Today Show handled this will increase the fear not only of having a child with Ds….even a perfectly healthy child with Ds……..but also increase the chasm between what society deems to be ‘perfect’, and those who are deemed ‘different.’

      That has truly weighed heavily on my heart. There are times when I feel as though an entire population of people is facing extinction. I know that sounds dramatic, but it is true.

      You are not the only one who disagrees with my point of view, though. (What?!? I’m not always right? ;D) It’s been interesting how many private emails I’ve received on this post from people who are a little uncomfortable to publicly voice their feelings. I’m glad you commented, as I think talking about this is a good thing as it helps to hear more than one person’s ideas.

      Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I truly appreciate it!

      • Beckie says:

        you are not far off in saying that there is a whole segment of the population facing extinction. 9 out of 10 babies with down syndrome are aborted. i just recently heard that there are certain places in europe where that is actually their goal… t21-free by such and such a year. that’s frightening. if it’s t21 right now, what population is next? i can’t imagine my life without my sweet 15 yr old with DS.

  8. Wow- thanks for writing this. I remember my aunt telling me a story when testing with my first son came back with questions. Years earlier test had shown that my oldest cousin had a great chance of having Downs (testing wasn’t as refined back then). My cousin was born without Downs. My son was born without any genetic variations. After that experience we refused testing on our next two. When I’m pregnant I’m pregnant because I want a baby. And I will accept that child however they come. Thanks for being such an eloquent voice on this topic!

  9. I couldn’t imagine seeing the results of a test like this on national television. And I’ve had enough of Matt Lauer and his smug face.

  10. mirna says:

    I will have to say that I hand’t thought of it this way and Im glad I read your post. In retrospect, it was highly insensitive of the show, and like me, no one there thought it through. And I feel awful for those with downs old enough to comprehend, oh so sad :(

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