Posted by: bridget | 14 January 2007

Missing Some of the Point

Patricia Bauer opines that earlier screening for Down’s Syndrome (presumably, as well as other genetic defects) is bad. Her thesis is that Down’s babies often lead happy, productive lives, and earlier screening will only increase the abortion rate of these babies. She neglects to mention (or even consider) several other reasons for earlier screening:

  • Not all parents are equipped to handle raising a Down’s baby, with the attendant lifelong care. Whether or not the kids can lead happy lives, the parents are unwilling to raise them (and such parents have few other options, given the difficulty of putting up Down’s babies for adoption).
  • Earlier screening (or any prenatal screening, for that matter) allows parents time to adjust and plan their lives around having a Down’s baby. Certainly, it is preferable to have early warning than to deliver a Down’s baby and be discharged with her from the hospital, two days later, with nary an idea of how to begin raising her.
  • Other genetic tests are detected through early screening. Tay-Sachs kills children by the age of 3. The other potpourri of genetic abnormalities include Turner Syndrome, Klinefelter’s Syndrome, Cri du Chat Syndrome, and Huntingtons’s Disease, to name a few.

The pachyderm agrees that abortion in the face of mild retardation is not humane. However, she thinks that Ms. Bauer misses the point. A mother who finds out, in the second trimester, that her child has Down’s has a very limited time frame in which to make a decision. One decision (abortion) leaves her with the chance to create another baby; the other decision binds her for life. Is it any wonder that, under a time crunch, she opts for the former? 51% of women are pro-life, yet roughly 90% of them abort a Down’s baby. Earlier testing gives women time to educate themselves and make a decision that is consistent with their morals and their desire to have a baby.

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