Friday, January 11, 2008


I not usually outspoken about my pro-life views, but once in a while I come across something that strikes me as worth commenting about. For example, I just came across an article that was published in June that reported:
Nice, France: Non-invasive screening of pregnant women with ultrasound early in pregnancy, combined with maternal blood analysis, has reduced the number of children born in Denmark with Down Syndrome by 50%, a scientist will tell the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics today. Professor Karen Brøndum-Nielsen, of the Kennedy Institute, Glostrup, Denmark, will say that another benefit of the introduction of this procedure in her country was a drop in the number of invasive pre-natal diagnostic procedures from 11% to approx. 6% of pregnancies.
Noninvasive screening in early pregnancy reduces Down's births by 50 percent
What the article doesn't say is that the 50% reduction in the number of children born with Down Syndrome in Denmark must be due to abortion. I already know that a high percentage of babies who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome prior to birth are aborted (I have read percentages as high as 80% to 90%).

What disturbs me most about the above quote is the assumption that a reduction in children born with Down Syndrome is beneficial. I wonder if researchers would make the same claim about other diagnoses that are given after birth. For example, would we consider a 50% reduction in those who suffer from cancer to be beneficial if the only cure was to euthanize those who are diagnosed? I don't think so.

I wish we were less concerned about reducing the number of people with disabilities and more concerned about valuing all people and doing our best to provide people with the opportunity to live fulfilling lives. I wish we could focus less on what people are not able to do and more on what they can do. I wish all families who receive a pre-natal diagnosis had more opportunities to meet other families who have children with a similar diagnosis and to see that the things we imagine are often worse than the reality.

I think we are too quick to dismiss our own strength and our ability to handle situations we never thought we could. While I was pregnant with Elijah I did not think I could handle a child with a disability. When we received Elijah's pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome I kept saying, "This is not what I wanted. This is not what I planned for our lives!" I thought caring for a special-needs child would take all of the joy out of life and leave us exhausted and weary. I could not have been more wrong.

Elijah is two and half now and brings us much more joy than frustration. Yes, sometimes we get tired, but who doesn't get tired when they have toddlers?! Elijah's laugh lights up the room and and his hugs melt my heart. Caring for Elijah has been different than caring for his older brother, but it has not been nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I'm so very glad Elijah is a part of our family and would never in a million years consider his death to be beneficial.


Helen said...

A friend of mine chose abortion when her fetus was diagnosed with Spina Biffida. I had a friend with SB while in elementary school. Sure, some things were difficult for her, some days worse than others where she required a wheelchair instead of leg braces. But she had the sunniest disposition of anyone I knew. And I was pretty much her only friend.

All this to say, you never know what that person would have turned out to be. Why choose to end it? What right do you have? I think more people should be thankful for the newest technology and tests that can tell you these things before birth. That way you can read up on such things and be as prepared as possible.

God only gives us what we can handle. If things were to have been so terrible, the child would have naturally been aborted. We have no right.

I also know a couple at church. She was hit by a drunk driver when pregnant. Her three year old daughter has a brain the thickness of a CD case. Tiny for her age, blind, needs a respirator some days. That doesn't diminish their love and hope for her. They cherish each day when having first been told she wouldn't make it three days, let alone three years.

Thanks for sharing.

Ellen said...

Thanks for commenting, Helen. While I am glad that they are finding more non-invasive procedures for pre-natal testing, I am also concerned that more people will use the tests to decide whether or not to continue their pregnancy instead of as an opportunity to read up on their child's diagnosis.

As thankful as I was for the opportunity to read up on Down Syndrome prior to Elijah's birth, I would not choose to have pre-natal testing done if we were to have another child. I spent 20-weeks worrying about a lot of things that I didn't need to worry about.

For awhile our doctor thought that Elijah would not survive the pregnancy and we were tempted to consider terminating the pregnancy. It's hard to understand until you are actually in the situation, so I want to extend grace to others who have struggled with this decision. In the end, we both agreed that we would not do any harm to our child and I am so incredibly thankful.

Dianne said...

I've been reading your husband's blog and enjoying it and so glad I stopped to check yours out. This post is just precious. What a blessing reading about Elijah! God bless.

Ellen said...

Thanks for stopping by Dianne.