Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Testing for the Kill

One of my old college friends, JD Flynn, has a good and important piece up at First Things about the dark assumptions that underlie new developments in pre-natal testing for Down syndrome:
Yesterday NPR’s Morning Edition reported on advances in the development of precise prenatal tests for Down syndrome and other genetic disorders. The report praised new tests that allow women to know more accurately and more quickly whether their children have a genetic disorder.

Prenatal testing for Down syndrome has become a hot issue in the medical community. Reports about advanced testing seem to make headlines every few months. But yesterday’s story was unique because NPR was clear about the supposed value of advanced prenatal testing. With advanced tests, the story said, women can terminate pregnancies with a high degree of certainty that their children are abnormal.

The story quoted physicians who lamented that inaccurate tests can mislead a woman into “terminating what would actually have been a normal pregnancy.” With prenatal certainty about trisomy 21, the doctors said, women won’t accidentally abort normal children.

The assumption of that logic, of course, is that any rational woman would choose to abort a child with Down syndrome.

I have two “abnormal children,” both of whom were born with Down syndrome. Both are adopted. Both were born to brave women counseled to abort their “abnormal pregnancies.” Their stories are far too typical. Prenatal testing is the reason why more than 70 percent of American children conceived with Down syndrome are aborted.
Read the rest.

1 comment:

jen said...

When I was pregnant with my son 5 years ago, my MSAFP test (the one for spina bifida and Down syndrome) came back elevated for Down's. They scheduled a 3-D ultrasound for the next week and asked for more blood. I had so many people freaking out about it (including my mom who was in Paris on business) and I was actually pretty calm because there was no chance in hell that I was aborting my kid.

We did the 3-D ultrasound, saw that everything was fine, and the doctor told me to "please raise him to be a strong man". (There aren't enough words to describe how completely awesome my perinatalogist was.) Two months later,I developed a nasty variant of preeclampsia called HELLP Syndrome and had to have an emergency c-section at 29.5 weeks. Daniel has his share of problems from the prematurity but Down syndrome ain't one of them!

If you don't know her already, check out Kathleen Basi's blog ( Her daughter Julianna has it and they do presentations on it to med students make the diagnosis less scary.