Friday, September 12, 2008

The Chromosome Barrier

Carolyn McCulley at Radical Womanhood has an excellent post about the value of life. This post struck me for several reasons. One, this week I was asked by my new OB if I had had a amniocentesis. It is so normal to have one these days, especially since I am considered old to have a baby. I am only 38 for goodness sake! I replied to her that no, I hadn't had one and it would not change my decision to have this baby had I had one. She kinda looked at me. I knew what she was thinking. I then went on to tell her that if my baby has Down's he would be just as welcome in our family as any other child...it makes no difference to me. It upsets me so when the value of someones life is based on performance and some normative comparison. Pre-natal testing has become a tool to eliminate valuable God created life.

The other reason this post struck me is, of coarse, our son Jonah. We did have all the pre-natal testing with him and if was confirmed he had Trisomy 18. T-18 is the same as Down's except the extra chromosome is on number 18 and not number 21. The lower the number of chromosome the more issues the child will have. Once Jonah's diagnosis was made the doctors wrote him off. The entire process of pre-natal testing to us was a means to gain help. We quickly discovered that the testing to the doctors was to determine if they were obligated to help us. When it was confirmed that he had Trisomy 18, they washed there hands of him and told us to go home. If we terminated his life there were support groups and services to help us. If we carried, which we did, we were told there was nothing they would do for us even if Jonah was born alive. They said we wouldn't find a doctor anywhere that would help prolong the inevitable. So if he survived birth they would do nothing to help him. It was the most unreal place I have ever been in my life. It opened my eyes to the real agenda of pre-natal testing.

Anyway, here's a portion of the post: I would encourage you to go over and read the whole article:

The wrenching diagnosis of 47 chromosomes must seem to parents like the end of a dream instead of the beginning of a life. But children born with Down syndrome -- who learn slowly but love deeply -- are generally not experienced by their parents as a curse but as a complex blessing. And when allowed to survive, men and women with an extra chromosome experience themselves as people with abilities, limits and rights. Yet when Down syndrome is detected through testing, many parents report that genetic counselors and physicians emphasize the difficulties of raising a child with a disability and urge abortion.
This is properly called eugenic abortion -- the ending of "imperfect" lives to remove the social, economic and emotional costs of their existence. And this practice cannot be separated from the broader social treatment of people who have disabilities. By eliminating less perfect humans, deformity and disability become more pronounced and less acceptable. Those who escape the net of screening are often viewed as mistakes or burdens. A tragic choice becomes a presumption -- "Didn't you get an amnio?" -- and then a prejudice. And this feeds a social Darwinism in which the stronger are regarded as better, the dependent are viewed as less valuable, and the weak must occasionally be culled.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

I just stumbled on to your blog. And my heart breaks knowing that you were treated that way with Jonah. Prayers with you on this new and old journey.

Debbie