Aborting Down Syndrome Babies
90% of all babies with Down Syndrome are aborted.
When asked the question, "Would you abort a baby with down syndrome?" Some people posted the following comments on various websites:
"While some people are prepared to take on babies with learning difficulties, not many are -- and I wouldn't condemn a child to a life drifting through the care system."
"In my opinion I think it is cruel to force a living being to live a life destined for pain and loneliness. We shoot horses to put them out of their misery and yet we still cant find it in our heart to relieve or prevent human suffering "
"I would AND would prefer to be myself aborted rather than live with a condition like that."
"I would not have a down syndrome child or one with a disability if I could prevent it I would. I would terminate the pregnancy and try again in the future for another one. I think it is great that we are able to screen for these defects now early and can prevent DS and other Disabilities. Like polio, ds will be a thing of the pass."
"I think that it would be the best thing to do for the child and parent in the long-run, though, it would still be very hard."
What is Down Syndrome?
Down Syndrome is a chromosomal disorder caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome. Usually Down syndrome comes with impaired cognitive ability and physical growth. The disorder can also include a higher risk for congenital heart defects, gastroesophageal reflux disease, ear infections, obstructive sleep apnea and thyroid dysfunctions.
Testing for Down Syndrome
Down Syndrome can be detected in the womb through genetic testing. It used to be that this testing was done on women 35 years and older.
Recently, the the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have recommended that all pregnant women, regardless of age have their fetus tested for the extra chromosome that causes Down Syndrome.
Amniocentesis is a test performed between weeks 16 and 18 week of a woman's pregnancy. The doctor inserts a hollow needle into the woman's abdomen to remove a small amount of amniotic fluid from around the developing fetus. This fluid can be tested to check for genetic problems. Amniocentesis carries a slight risk of inducing a miscarriage.
Chorionic villus sampling is usually performed between the 10th and 12th weeks of pregnancy. The doctor removes a small piece of the placenta to check for genetic problems in the fetus. This test carries the risk of inducing a miscarriage.
Percutaneous umbilical blood sampling (PUBS) is performed after the 18th week of pregnancy. Blood is taken from a vein in the umbilical cord and examined for chromosomal defects. This test carries a greater risk of miscarriage than does amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.
Ultrasound is a test done during pregnancy which uses sound waves to generate a picture or image of the fetus. Symptoms that can be seen via ultrasound include: a decrease in femur length, an increase in the skin behind the neck, cysts in a section of the brain that produces spinal fluid, heart defects and intestinal blockages.
Blood tests can be done along with an ultrasound to measure the levels of pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) and a hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Abnormal levels of PAPP-A and HCG may indicate a problem with the baby.
1"Prenatal Test Puts Down Syndrome in Hard Focus", The New York Times, May 9, 2007 by Amy Harmon
2"Down Syndrome Support Groups Rise to Counter Physicians’ Poor Diagnostic Practices" CNSNews.com October 16, 2008 by Penny Starr
3"Mothers: Doctors Too Negative When Diagnosing Down Syndrome" ABCNews.com October 13, 2005
The Medical Community's Negative Spin
There are a few problems associated with testing for down syndrome. One is that the tests can be inaccurate. With the ultrasound and blood tests, one in 20 women will have a positive result - far more than those who eventually deliver a baby with a chromosomal abnormality. Most women who have a positive result from a screening test deliver healthy babies. With Amniocentesis, CVS and PUBS, the results are between 98 and 99 percent accurate.
The other problem with this testing is that when it is found that a baby could have down syndrome, doctors often portray a gloom and doom scenario to the parents. When parents are told their baby has Down syndrome, it is often put in such a negative way by medical professionals, that the final result of the process is a Down syndrome abortion. If medical professionals and health care workers had a more positive attitude to Down syndrome pregnancies, then the Down syndrome abortion rate would drop substantially.1
Dr. Brian Skotko, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, conducted a survey of more than 1,000 women who had a Down syndrome child, 12.5 percent of which were mothers who had received a pre-natal diagnosis. Those 141 women reported “incomplete, inaccurate or offensive” information about Down syndrome at the time of diagnosis. They also said they weren’t connected to resources that could help them understand their child’s condition.2
In another survey, mothers of children with Down syndrome reported physicians were overwhelmingly negative when diagnosing fetuses and newborns with Down syndrome, often advising the mother to discontinue the pregnancy or to put the child up for adoption. The findings of the survey fueled a complicated debate over termination of fetuses diagnosed with a disability, with abortion opponents citing the survey as proof doctors can influence a woman's decision to keep her baby or not. 3
- North Dakota Becomes First State to Protect Special Needs Babies in the Womb
North Dakota bans abortions done only to eliminate a fetus with genetic abnormalities, or because the fetus is of a different sex than the parent desires. A doctor who performs an abortion for either of those reasons could be guilty of a misdemeanor.
- Sarah Palin's Letter From God
This letter was written a couple of days before the Palins' child, Trig was born.
In May 2008, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, announced the formation of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus. Its mission is to educate members of Congress and their staff about Down syndrome; support legislative activities that would improve Down syndrome research, education and treatment; and promote public policies that would enhance the quality of life for those with Down syndrome.
In the fall of 2008, a bill called the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act, sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, was signed into law by President George W. Bush.
This Act aims to promote programs to give new or expectant parents the latest information about Down syndrome or other disabilities and to give them referrals to support services. The law also authorizes the government to help create a national registry to connect birth parents with people who want to adopt a child with Down syndrome.
There are also groups being formed, such as KIDS - Keep Infants with Down Syndrome, whose objective is to challenge the misinformation that often leads a mother to abort her child diagnosed to have Down Syndrome. KIDS was founded by Eileen Haupt and Leticia Velasquez, who both have daughters with Down syndrome. As Haupt said, "The one thing that prenatal testing cannot tell you is the unspeakable joy that your child with Down syndrome will give you."