Friday, September 18, 2009

Downs Syndrome and Abortion


In 1993 my wife and I received the glad news that we would be welcoming our first child into our family. We were delighted and anxious at the same time. We knew that having a baby would change everything. But we were excited about who this little one would be. We were taken of guard however when one of the standard prenatal tests showed an increased chance that our child would be born with Downs Syndrome. The news shook us. As part of the process we consulted with a geneticist who told us more about the test results.

The geneticist, assuming Karen would undergo an amniocentesis to determine if our baby had DS, calmly informed us that at that time we could "choose to abort" if the tests were positive. Well, he said the wrong thing to the wrong pregnant woman. While I sat there dismayed my wife leaned forward, fixed her eyes firmly on the doctor and with her best "now you listen and listen good" tone of voice said, "This is our baby and we will love her no matter what is wrong." The conviction in her words and across her face made his nonchalance all the more profane. Her words may well have bounced off the doctor but they resonated in my troubled mind. I knew in that moment it would be alright regardless of the outcome.

Interestingly (providentially?) that same evening we attended a Michael Card concert in Kansas City. At one point Michael shared about a child with Downs Syndrome in the church to which he belonged in Tennessee. He told of the joys that child gave not only to his parents but to those within the fellowship of believers. He lamented the reality that because of abortion fewer of those beloved little ones would be given life outside the womb. What is more, sitting in the row directly in front of Karen and I was family that had a young child with Downs Syndrome. It made for a profound evening and God comforted us with the truth that He was the author of life and would give us a fearfully and wonderfully made child.

We chose not to have an amniocentesis because of the risk of miscarriage. So until that afternoon in April of 1994 we did not know exactly what the outcome would be. All we knew is that we would treat the child God gave us with love and dignity.

In His wisdom God gave us a perfectly healthy little girl. We are thankful for that. But we also know that had she had Downs Syndrome she would have been no less loved or valued.

Al Mohler has written an important post on the disappearance of children with Downs Syndrome due to the abominable practice of abortion.

The new research is based on work by Dr. Brian Skotko, a clinical genetics fellow at Children's Hospital Boston. Skotko, who has a sister with Down syndrome, asks this haunting question: "As new tests become available, will babies with Down syndrome slowly disappear?"

His research reveals deeply troubling trends. Between 1989 and 2005, births of babies with Down syndrome decreased by 15 percent. As Science Daily explains, "In the absence of prenatal testing, researchers would have expected the opposite -- a 34 percent increase in births -- due to the trend of women waiting longer to have children; known to increase the chances of having a baby with Down syndrome."

In an article published in 2005, Skotko argued that doctors are often ill-prepared to discuss the diagnosis of Down syndrome with their pregnant patients. Chillingly, he also revealed that a significant percentage of the doctors "reported that they 'emphasize' the negative aspects of DS so that patients would favor a termination."

With the new technologies of prenatal diagnosis so close on the horizon, Skotko now sees a "true collision" on its way. "More women will be going through the testing process, which could lead to a lot of difficult, uncomfortable conversations between physicians and expectant patients."

The reason for the decrease in the number of babies born with Down syndrome comes into clearer focus when The Washington Post cites Skotko's research indicating that 92 percent of women who learn they are carrying a baby with Down syndrome choose to abort the pregnancy. That is more than nine out of ten.
Read the entire post HERE.

2 comments:

Christi said...

Chilling to say the least. I often wonder if some of our "technology" absolutely grieves the heart of God. Thanks for the information, we miss you guys.

Deb said...

I appreciate you sharing your very personal story.