Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Choosing Your Children?

I'm an avid reader of of the Freakonomics blog run by the best-selling writers of the book Freakonomics. This past week, they covered a topic I find startling. The New York Times reports that as more prenatal tests for Down Syndrome are administered an alarming trend has surfaced. As many as ninety percent of mothers whose unborn children have Down Syndrome choose to abort their pregnancy. As a parent with child who has a somewhat similar genetic disorder, I find that absolutely shocking! And I'm not the only one.

Parents raising children with Down Syndrome are working together to inform these would-be mothers about the positive aspects of raising a disabled child in an effort to overcome the fear that seems to be driving the astronomical abortion rate. They're helping these potential parents understand that there is more to their upcoming child than developmental and health problems. There is a richness in these childrens' lives that cannot be measured or weighed by simply looking at imperfections in their genes.

As more tests for more genetic conditions become available during pregnancy, will more parents choose to not have these children? The question becomes, should we be able to choose our children? One mother had this to say, “It isn’t about abortion politics or religion, it’s a pure ethical question.” How do we better inform parents under these conditions? What will happen to tolerance and acceptance for children born with genetic disorders if they become so much less common?

Obviously, I don't have the answers to these questions, but news like this does make me eager to be an even more vocal advocate of the fulfillment of raising a disabled child. I can personally attest to the fact that there is no joy like helping a little one with challenges to reach their full potential.

Have questions or want to discuss this further? Please feel free to comment. I'd love to hear others' perspectives.


Gavin Ross said...

I absolutely agree with the ethical comment. Children are children and you never know exactly what you are going to get. Anything could happen throughout their lifetime. I am the father of a 5 month old daughter with 1P36 and I totally understand the grieving process in discovering you have a disabled child. But from a societal perspective, it is a grievous ethical error to create a culture where disability becomes a factor in determine worth of life. It is also a tremendous slippery slope- what is next?

Jin said...

My oldest child is handicapped (undiagnosed), she is such a joy in our lives and we were meant to be her parents- God picked her for us and us for her. I've had two children since and you wouldn't believe the doctors reactions when I refused the prenatal teting for "abnormalities." Whatever they told me was not going to change my mind about having the child and then there's the chance of a false positive test result. My daughter has a great life, we are all stronger, better people for knowing her. There are some things that have just gone too far- you should get what you get, not pick and choose! I'm surprised more people haven't commented on this! (I just found your blog and I can't wait to read more about your family!)

Nate said...

Hi Jin,

Thanks for stopping by. This is definitely one of my most serious posts, but I agree. People just don't know of the amazing joys of raising a child with disabilities. If they did, there would be the frightening number of people who are terminating these pregnancies with "abnormal" genetic results. Bless you for your courage!