What makes Down syndrome so terrifying?

Obviously I missed the memo stating that effective immediately, the most important prerequisite of giving birth to a child is perfection.

Oh, I know of Denmark’s Copenhagen Post projection that by the not too distant future Denmark could be a country without a single citizen with Down syndrome.

How?  Well, by offering all pregnant women free prenatal screening to determine if the fetus is affected with an extra 21st chromosome.   Suddenly women were aborting prenatally diagnosed fetuses right and left.

 

Which kinda makes me wonder what is so terrorizing about Down syndrome that would convince a mother to abort her unborn child.

My concern is magnified by this latest announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services that it will adopt the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation that no-cost prenatal care will include prenatal testing for “genetic or developmental conditions”

The regulation was issued as part of the PPACA’s coverage of preventive services. This prompts the question, How does prenatal testing prevent Down syndrome?

Could the HHS be trying to sneak in a eugenics program the way Denmark has seemed to do? Or am I just being paranoid?

Now here’s the kicker.  The HHS, while providing free prenatal testing is NOT providing necessary and updated information in case that prenatal testing comes back positive for Down syndrome.

As Mark W. Leach writes: 

” Professional guidelines require that physicians be well-informed about Down syndrome, offer accurate information, and recognize that parent support organizations can be very helpful. This summer, the National Society for Genetic Counselors and the American Academy of Pediatrics required that this balancing information be part of prenatal care. Both further note that families “benefit from hearing a fair and balanced perspective, including the many positive outcomes of children with Down syndrome and their effect on the family.”

The need for this information is so apparent that, in 2005, two senators from opposite sides of the abortion issue, Senators Ted Kennedy and Sam Brownback, co-sponsored legislation that recognized the need to provide accurate, balanced information and support by parent organizations. In 2008, the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act was signed into law, but it has yet to receive any appropriations. Similarly, the HHS regulation only requires coverage of the testing itself, but says nothing about covering the provision of proper training, accurate written materials, or support to or through parent organizations–things that could, in fact, improve the parents’ and child’s wellbeing after receiving a prenatal diagnosis.

Sounds a little sketchy to me. 

About a month after Leach’s article was posted news came out about a new and less risky down syndrome test that has been developed.
Now, don’t get me wrong.  I understand being scared when confronted with a new diagnosis.  I understand being worried.  I understand feeling lost.  I get it.

 But I don’t understand the fear to the point of doing everything in society’s power to bring to an end an entire population of people. 

Then it hits me. 

While it’s all about Down syndrome now, it’s about cystic fibrosis, autism,  gender or undesirable paternity later.

Tricky, no?

The same technology used to detect that extra chromosome, the counting of small fragments of DNA in a mother’s blood can…..and will be used to detect any sort of imperfection.  Even the imperfection of not being the preferred gender.

And so I ask again.  Since when did perfection become the leading prerequisite to determining  whether  a parent allows their unborn child the opportunity of life?

How did we get here?  And what can we do to stop it?

 

6 Comments

  1. Kristina Oct 27, 11
  2. KDL
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    Oct 27, 11
  3. Krista
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    Oct 28, 11
  4. Katie Jones Nov 2, 11
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    Nov 4, 11
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