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.Read the rest.
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.
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: