False choices and saving babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome

By Nancy Valko

Editor’s note. This appeared on Nancy’s blog.

jeromelejeunfoundation34reIn this Washington Post article, Rachel Adams, herself a mother of a child with Down Syndrome, maintains that

“But we won’t end discrimination by limiting access to abortion, which will have the unwanted consequence of driving some women to risk their health by seeking illegal alternatives and other women to bear children they are not prepared to raise. Better to put resources into services and supports that improve the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families. (Emphasis added)

This presents a false choice between aborting a child because of a probable diagnosis (without knowing the eventual prognosis) and a possibly difficult life for the mother, even though studies have shown great satisfaction in families with a child with Down syndrome.

Also, it is very telling that nowhere in this article does Ms. Adams even mention adoption. There are groups helping prospective adoptive parents for children with Down Syndrome and other special needs. Here are just a few (this does not imply my personal endorsement of any group) : National Down Syndrome Adoption Network, Special Angels Adoption, Adopt America Network, Love without Boundaries-Adopt Special Needs, Special Needs Adoption Coalition.

Ms. Adams obviously loves her son but prenatal medical discrimination has led to medical discrimination after birth for people with disabilities. All the “resources into services and supports that improve the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families” she mentions will not necessarily protect her son’s life as he ages and especially if her son outlives her.

My son and daughter-in-law hope to adopt or foster a child when my daughter-in-law recovers from her recent kidney transplant. They have said they would be happy to have a child with special needs, especially a child with Down syndrome like my son’s late sister Karen.