25 Oct “What tuition should we charge for learning humanity?”
October 25, 2011
From the Desk of Carol Soelberg:
We welcome Amy Day as a new contributor to our weekly articles and alerts. This week we begin a series related to a topic that probably few of us give much thought – that topic being the “Modern-Day Eugenics Movement.”
In addition to the scourge of abortion, there are developments in genetics and reproductive technologies that raise ethical and moral questions regarding mankind’s dealings with human life. Our hope is that we can all become better educated on these matters and be ever watchful of science and public policy initiatives that compromise the sanctity of human life.
President, United Families International
“What Tutition Would We Charge for Learning Humanity?”
by Amy Day
I once heard an ad on the radio, describing a particularly needy segment of the population: can’t read, can’t spell, can’t write, can’t drive, can’t always dress themselves, some can’t even use the bathroom unassisted. They really need our help! Who are these needy folks? Children! Of course! The ad was promoting literacy and the point was, that these are otherwise “normal” individuals whose development is still very basic, yet live happy, successful lives, with the assistance of compassionate adults to overcome specific challenges. No one would ever consider doing away with a child, just because he or she lacked the ability, in that case, to read.
For some unborn children, those diagnosed with Down syndrome, being done away with because of future long-term intellectual challenges, is a distinct reality. With the availability of abortion on demand, and with prenatal testing for “genetic or developmental conditions” being bundled in with preventative care to “delay the onset of targeted disease or condition,” many children with Down syndrome simply won’t ever see the light of day. Especially insidious is the fact that Down syndrome isn’t a disease. It can’t be prevented nor cured by any amount of “preventative care.”
Mark Leach, father of second-grade daughter with Downs, puts it this way:
“A prenatal test does not decrease the likelihood of Down syndrome in a person; it does allow for a decreased likelihood of a person with Down syndrome surviving beyond the womb. If this is how [Health and Human Services] is justifying prenatal testing Down syndrome as preventative care, then HHS has ushered in a program meant to target future children like Juliet”
Elizabeth Schiltz, mother to a child with Down syndrome, recalls spending portions of her childhood beneath the long shadow of an old Franciscan Monastery outside of Hadamar, Germany, where back in the 1940’s, the Nazis had taken over the monastery and sent people like her child there to die. As an adult, when prenatal testing indicated that Elizabeth was most likely carrying a child with Down syndrome, she recorded that, “The medical professionals I was dealing with through these four tests were not trying to help me protect the health of my baby… They were offered for the purpose of bestowing upon me a special societal privilege to choose to abort my baby.”
Elizabeth wonders where the difference is between the attitudes of today and those manifest in 1940’s Germany. Her choice to deliver her son, knowing the diagnosis, produced only more consternation from others: “What’s buried in that question, deep in their eyes, is the perception of my son as a ‘choice’–specifically my choice–rather than a unique human being created in God’s image, a full-fledged member of the human race.”
Demographics in Europe for individuals with Down syndrome are changing sharply: “According to the Copenhagen Post, ‘Denmark could be a country without a single citizen with Down syndrome in the not too distant future.'” Whatever the motivation behind such a loss, this is especially heartbreaking when one considers that the majority of individuals with Downs live happy, well-adjusted lives. According to an article by Michael Cook,
“The latest research on life with Down syndrome paints a very positive picture. In a major feature in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, Dr. Brian Skotko, of Children’s Hospital Boston, and colleagues report that,
The overwhelming majority of parents surveyed report that they are happy with their decision to have their child with DS and indicate that their sons and daughters are great sources of love and pride.” The report also indicates that “nearly all siblings regarded their relationship with a brother or sister with Down syndrome as positive and enhancing,” while “of older siblings, 88% felt that the experience had made them better people.”
What price, then, does humanity pay, for ending the life of an individual, barely begun, for the “crime” of being genetically different from the average human? As Elizabeth Schiltz put it, “What tuition would we charge for learning humanity?” Pearl S. Buck said of her own experience mothering a special needs daughter,
“.I learned respect and reverence for every human mind. It was my child who taught me to understand so clearly that all people are equal in their humanity and that all have the same human rights. None is to be considered less, as a human being, than any other, and each must be given his place and his safety in the world. I might never have learned this any other way. I might have gone on in the arrogance of my own intolerance for those less able than myself. My child taught me humanity.”
Fortunately, legislation is in place to make sure parents get accurate information about raising a child diagnosed with Down syndrome. With a 90% abortion rate for a positive prenatal test result, this legislation can’t get into the hands of concerned parents, fast enough. Citizen advocates can put the pressure on HHS to provide both testing and, what is more important, accurate information to support parents and their children with Down syndrome.
Please ponder these thoughts from one of my friends, a mother of a young-adult son with Down syndrome, a son much beloved of his family, well-liked by our community:
Every soul is of value.
We are all born with an individual personality.
We are placed on earth to teach one another.
We make others feel important by helping them succeed.
Some individual are to be a test for others and others are to be tested by them.
We are more understanding or comfortable because we have had experience with people with developmental disabilities.
This can be a challenge for people have never associated with people with disabilities. They are afraid of what they may experience, like tasting some new food you either like it or not. You may have to warm up to it.
We are all unique individuals.
We all deserve a chance for a good life.
We are better people having associated with those who are challenged or not “normal.”
What is normal? Who says we are the “normal” one?
God loves all of his children!
Amy Day is a happily married wife, and full-time mother of 5 growing sons and daughters. She believes that marriage between a man and a woman is the bedrock of all civilized societies, and that a happy family life is essential to personal happiness. She is thrilled to support the United Families International team in protecting and promoting marriage, parental rights, and basic human rights, including ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ She believes that there are no rights without accountability and responsibility and that freedom of choice is not freedom from consequence.