Anyone who knows me knows how much this prenatal testing bothers me. It's not the testing in and of itself that bothers me. Like most technology, it has its uses and can provide a lot of good. However, in this case, what it is used for is not good. Over and over again, the testing is used solely as a way to diagnose in order to terminate. And that reeks of eugenics to me.
While driving in the car on Tuesday, I was listening to Talk Radio (am 1010 for those of you in Southern Ontario). The talk show host had found himself in a bit of "trouble" for a comment he had made the day before about feral cats. Apparently, there is a bit of trouble with feral cats in some of the areas of Toronto. These cats have become wild but people leave food out for them. So, these cats continue to thrive and breed and multiply....they are noisy, disease-ridden and smelly. So this announcer suggested that they be rounded up... the ones that could be adopted out (ie are domesticated) be adopted out through the Humane Society and the ones that couldn't be adopted out (ie could never be domesticated) be euthanized. Well... you think he'd advocated World War 3 from the response he got. The phone lines at the TV station were flooded... the emails at the radio station were overwhelming....the calls to the radio station the next day took over! One by one people called in to say what a horrible human being he was to even suggest such a horrible act.
Then, in the afternoon, on the same radio station, there was a small topic about this prenatal testing and the question was raised "are we on the road to eliminating people with Down syndrome?" Unfortunately, I wasn't able to hang around for the discussion, but having heard discussions like this in the past on this station, I know the callers - most of them are parents of chlidren with DS advocating for their kids. But, no... the phone lines aren't jammed. in fact, it is a rather quiet discussion.
I couldn't help but be struck by the irony of this. We are strongly advocating not to kill feral cats, but it's ok to kill a human being simply for not being "perfect"? oh... don't get me going!
Believe it or not, as a someone who was always pro-life (or anti-abortion, I guess), I have come to realize there is a need for legal abortion. I still can't agree with it, but I do think there should be some choice and I don't want to end up back in the ages of back-street abortions. But what I can never support is aborting a WANTED child.... a child that can be cared for.... simply because it carries an extra chromosome. And what continues to amaze me is the one-sidedness of the medical establishment. Sure, there are doctors and technicians that will tell the prospective parents that it is OK and provide them with accurate information. But more often than not, the medical establishment assumes the parents will abort. They provide doom and gloom scenarios and never even offer to put these people in contact with parents who live with a child with DS. I am terrified that in 50 years there will be very very few people with Down sydrome walking around. It makes me sad for Ryan. But more importantly, it makes me very sad for our world.