DISCUSSION STARTER

From THE HERALD SUN:

Many children with Down Syndrome are being eliminated because of abortion, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Madrid said ahead of a weekend visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Pope will bless the first stone for construction of a new home for children with Down Syndrome and other disabilities in Barcelona on Monday. It is being built by the Roman Catholic Church's Nino Dios foundation, which used to work only with Down's Syndrome children but has since broadened its work.

"We know that the number of these people has declined mostly because a good number of them are eliminated before they are born," said the press director for the Spanish Bishops' Conference, Isidro Catela.

The Pope, "will extend his hand to the defence of life, the life of everybody, whether or not they have greater or less intellectual capacity," Mr Catela said.

COMMENT: To be honest the possibility of a baby being born with disabilities, my unsureness about abortion and the likelihood of being a crap parent to such a child is one of the reasons I do not have children. Perhaps such selfishness such exclude me from this debate but I would say one thing. Before trying to persuade parents to proceed with the birth of babies they know will be severely disabled, the Pope should try to persuade governments, and selfish "tea party" sorts, that much more money from public coffers (from higher taxes) should be made available to make the lives of parents with disabled children a beautiful experience rather than being full of hardship and poverty.

Over to you . . .

Comments

DISCUSSION STARTER — 17 Comments

  1. “…the Pope should try to persuade governments, and selfish “tea party” sorts, that much more money from public coffers (from higher taxes) should be made available to make the lives of parents with disabled children a beautiful experience rather than being full of hardship and poverty.”

    That is an excellent, excellent point and I’m so glad you made it.

    We know from the relevant statistics that abortion rates decrease when economic conditions improve so it stands to reason that financial hardship plays a significant role in someone’s choice to have an abortion (whether the fetus has been diagnosed with a disability or not.)

  2. You are right in your feeling about this. There are many families that have been reduced to poverty caring for children that probably should be put in an institution because of severe disability well beyond what even the best-intentioned family can do. There was a case in Brooklyn many years ago in which a family tried to care for an extremely disabled Downs Syndrome child, one far removed from the jovial little fellow in your photo. One day, the father simply snapped and killed the entire family and then himself. It is easy to say that a family should be able to take care of Downs children (and indeed many Downs kids grow to be happy adults who are very productive within their limitations), but not all Downs children are the same, and some – like the child in Brooklyn – are simply beyond what ordinary humans can stand. The tragedy there of course is that the family either did not ask for help, or help was not available, and four people died. When a state limits what a family can do with a severely disabled child, especially in the womb, then the state has the moral obligation to contribute to the support and living expenses of that child.

    I began my work career as a medical illustrator in a large medical school and teaching hospital in Brooklyn, NY in the 1960s. There was a couple – both doctors – who had two bizarrely deformed children, the maintenance of whom reduced the two physicians to penury, yet the children should have been institutionalized long before they were. These kids, a boy and a girl, were the “bird children.” Each was small, with a very small head and a large beak-like nose. They were covered from head to foot with a layer of snow white fur. They had no control of their bodily functions, so had to wear diapers, and they could not speak at all; squeaking like rodents was all they could manage. I saw the pictures of these two kids myself, and they were human only in genetic background and ancestry.

    The couple had the boy first, then had a normal girl, then had the afflicted girl. So it was a recessive genetic defect that caused this syndrome, but that didn’t help the family, because back then there was no genetic testing the way we do it now. So yes, there are many sides to the story, and all of them must be heard.

  3. One of the hard things about Downs Syndrome is that there is no way to tell through amnemio the severity of individual conditions. Some Downs people are pretty high functioning and others are very mentally retarded and have a ton of health problems.

    I had a student with Downs and he was the saddest little guy I’ve ever met. Always uncomfortable, with no energy and very, very mentally disabled. So sad.

    While I respect his parents’ decision to not terminate, I would also have supported their choice to have done so.

  4. I think this is one of those “no one who hasn’t walked in those shoes should judge” kinda thangs.

    But there are also unfortunate couples whose genes are doomed (usually if not inevitably, when they come together) who have repeated pregnancies, always carried to term, w/ offspring DOOMED to “Nasty, Brutish and Short” lives. I can’t understand that. (NB: I’m not talking about Downs Syndrome—or at least, not Downs Syndrome alone.)

  5. Just FYI, the correct term is Down Syndrome (not Downs Syndrome).

    From another perspective, as stands conservative Africa to the world of sexual inclusion, so this stands to the world of disability inclusion.

    But I suppose we each have our limits of “inclusion”, none of us really mean that term to the full.

  6. Just FYI, the correct term is Down Syndrome (not Downs Syndrome).

    From another perspective, as stands conservative Africa to the world of sexual inclusion, so this stands to the world of disability inclusion.

    But I suppose we each have our limits of “inclusion”, none of us really mean that term to the full.

  7. It’s Down Syndrome or Down’s Syndrome.

    The problem with disabled people saying that there must never be abortions is that it is always the disabled people with a reasonable standard of life who talk the loudest. Those who would probably choose not to have been born often don’t have the ability to say so or even think it.

    But, Joseph, you are on your hobby horse and are projecting stuff onto the comments that aren’t there.

    What is it with Edmonton? So many righteous people.

  8. From another perspective, as stands conservative Africa to the world of sexual inclusion, so this stands to the world of disability inclusion.

    And again, I’m confused. What is “this”? O_o

  9. @MP -a) no one here (at least to my knowledge) argued “that there must never be abortions”, myself included. Not sure if you are addessing anything presently in your post or in the comments.
    @MP -b) no, I simply have an hour to kill and clicked here from my friend Malcom’s blog (he’s Canadian, eh?)

    I am writing of the issue as a whole, not of any particular comments. If it is an inclusion issue, then one must recognize that there are (out there, not necessarily in here) those who by default hold a non-inclusive position, which would prejudice their treatment of this issue in particular.

    @JCF – yes, I believe you. Not in a facetious sense, but it is a confusing issue all around; as has been pointed out, there are a combinations of knowns and unknowns. Again, see the last paragraph. By “this” I mean the issue as a whole.

  10. My apologies, then Joseph. Without your later explanation I understood you to be attacking somebody. As we try our hardest to be inclusive here I assumed you were attacking us with sarcasm. Now I know where you are coming from your comment makes a lot of sense.

  11. I am glad to report that while I lived in southeast England I got acquainted with a local family which included a little boy with Down Syndrome who was being magnificently supported by the NHS and was thriving as a result. When the family went up to London for regular checkups and conferences, they met with a team of about nine different practitioners, each addressing a different aspect of the child’s health and developmental progress. There was no question of the family being impoverished. They were modest shopkeepers who would never have had even a fraction of the means to purchase this quality and quantity of care. This is one of the cases I always think of when I hear Americans banging on about the supposed evils of a universal (national) health system, and one more reason why I respect you Brits, who figured out this was a good idea even without the Pope telling you so. So, God bless!

  12. I never had to make this decision either with respect to a Down(s) syndrome child/fetus or any other. I don’t know what I would have decided. I hope I would have prayed. I hope I would have had the right to have decided with the help and prayers of my partner/doctor/priest and without the intrusion of a predominately male government

  13. The American “Religious Right” wingnuts contribute significantly to the rate of selective abortions, because they oppose adequate publicly funded health care and special needs coverage for children AND for affected adults.

    A friend of mine has a brother with Down’s syndrome. The brother lives at home with his elderly parents, works at a sheltered workshop, is a very nice man with a sense of fun, and would be considered “high-functioning” for Downs Syndrome (in part due to the parents’ insistence on home care and appropriate education, still somewhat unusual at that time). The father, now retired from his paying job, is a vigorous lobbyist at the state level for adult special-needs care provisions. Parents really worry about what will happen when they die, especially if there is only one sibling.

  14. (re first paragraph)

    Preach it, NancyP!

    Over on the Popoid channel (EWTN), I saw part of an interview w/ the mother of (late youth poet) Mattie Stepanek.

    I think (I missed the first part of the interview) that the mother, in wheelchair w/ oxygen, has a form of a disease (some kind of muscular dystrophy) that killed ALL 4 of her children (Mattie, the last, lived the longest, until age 11 I think).

    I’m sure this woman is thankful for all her children—I don’t begrudge her that.

    Paradox: I can simultaneously hold that each of those Stepanek children was a gift from God, AND that (after 1st or 2nd), they NEVER should have been born! Opinions?

  15. Opinions?

    You insist that Christians do not participate in capitol punishment.

    Do you think that those children would have agreed with you? Do you think that they would have chosen to have never lived? Because a life is destined to be difficult and/or short, is it best never to have been?