Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Future Without Down Syndrome?

As the father of a child with Down syndrome, I have mixed feelings about Dana Goldstein’s piece in The Daily Beast, ”A Future Without Down Syndrome?”. On the one hand, it’s always nice to read of parents who have come to embrace the treasures that their non-typical children are. But on the other hand, I am a little disheartened by some of the underlying assumptions: particularly that only the “very religious” or the uneducated would choose to carry to term a baby diagnosed with Trisomy 21, or that advocates are motivated by a desire not to see their child’s peer group shrink.

Ms. Goldstein, unfortunately, reflects a significant portion of American society. Too many people, it seems to me, have children for the wrong reason. Their motivations are fundamentally selfish, and they are devastated if the child is born with imperfections. The birth of a child should never be the cause of depression! (Yes, I realize that post-partum depression is real. I don't think we're talking about that here, though."

There is a curious statistic cited. “According to a study published last month in the journal Pediatrics, between 1979 and 2003, the number of babies born with the condition increased from nine to about 12 per 10,000 births.” Just how that statistic is reconciled with the contradictory, and oft-cited, statistic that as many as 90% of Down syndrome pregnancies are terminated by abortion is a mystery. Methinks maybe I should take a peak at that study.

As with many on-line articles, the comments provide some “interesting” perspectives.

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