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A different perspective – continued

Posted in Attitudes to disability, Religion (and the lack of it), Termination by Matt at WelcometoIllinois on October 14, 2008

When I decided to write about the (for want of a better phrase) anti-Down’s syndrome stance taken by a number of writers I was wary about how well my attempts at understanding a different point of view would be received.

It has been interesting to see the response. There has certainly been a lot of interest, with A different perspective quickly becoming the third most popular post on this blog. Only posts about Tropic Thunder and Sarah Palin have garnered more interest.

I have also been pleased to see one of the writers concerned, The Aesthetic Capitalist (AC) prepared to engage in considered debate on the topic, although not because I necessarily want to provide an audience to some of his views.

AC has responded to my post and the question I raised as to why he wanted to “end Down Syndrome.”

Given the level of interest in my original post I thought some people would be interested in my response to his response, which I just left as a comment on his blog. While I don’t particularly want this blog to be the forum for the continuation of this debate, which is best left to the comments sections I think, this is all I want to say on the subject for now:


You quote from a parent of a child with Down’s syndrome to support your view that it brings sacrifice and suffering, rather than joy. I don’t doubt that this perspective is real and that there are huge challenges to be faced.

However, you are ignoring all the countless accounts of parents of children with Down’s syndrome about the joy and happiness they get from their children. Are you going to ignore these accounts just because they come from people with beliefs that are different from your own?

I understand your issues with the deification of disability but your assumption that religiously motivated suffering is the main reason for people choosing to have a child with Down’s syndrome is, I believe, wrong.

I previously wrote that I see two reasons why a great number of “Down’s syndrome bloggers” are religious:

“1/ That religion and faith play a big part in many people’s decision to continue with a pregnancy after they have discovered that the baby has Down’s syndrome.

2/ That a lot of people draw comfort and strength from their religion in accepting and coping with the issues that arise from bringing up a child with disabilities.”

That does not mean that they are choosing suffering over joy, but it may mean that they choose religious imagery as a means to express their joy. Without knowing for sure, we cannot assume to know what their motivations are.

I have already explained that my own decision was not motivated by belief. Although I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, I consider myself to be pro-choice. As I wrote the other day:

“I would respect the right of someone to continue with their pregnancy on religious (or any other) grounds just as I would respect the right of someone to terminate their pregnancy on philosophical (or any other) grounds.”

Not continuing with our pregnancy was, therefore, a very real option for us. What we found, however, was that when theory became reality, Down’s syndrome was not, in itself, enough to justify terminating the life of our unborn child.

One of the reasons for this was the consideration of all the disabilities that a baby could be born with that you cannot scan for. What would we do if our baby was born deaf or blind? We’d just get on with it.

I can honestly say that at no point in the decision-making process did I consider just “trying again”. Bringing a child into the world is not like making something with clay to be reprocessed when it doesn’t quite turn out like you wanted.

I also never considered that we might be “depriving a healthy child” of life. The choice I made was whether to continue with the life of my child (not in theory, but in the specific circumstances in which the decision had to be made). There was no other child to consider. I suspect that this is a point of view on which we are unlikely to reach agreement.

While I understand your perspective as to why you personally would not want to continue with the pregnancy of an unborn child with Down’s syndrome after an ante-natal diagnosis I am still not clear on why you feel the need to convince others to do the same.

You appear to take a dim view of religiously motivated pro-lifers who seek to reduce the right of the individual to choose termination.

In my view your desire to persuade people to view knowingly carrying a Down’s Syndrome fetus to term as “monstrous” is just as bad – if not worse given that it is actively discriminatory.

At the moment Down’s syndrome is one of the few disabilities that can be tested in the womb, so it is naturally the focus of discrimination.

What happens when it is possible to test for intelligence, or sight, or hearing? Would you also seek to “end visual impairment”? Where do you draw the line?

I guess my point is this: every body draws a line somewhere, but where they draw that line is a personal matter for the individual (or more likely couple) to decide. They are free to base that decision on whatever they choose and neither you, nor anyone else, should dictate to people what that decision should be.


3 Responses

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  1. Love Down syndrome said, on October 17, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I don’t know how you can so nonchalantly continue to talk about “everyone needs to decide for themselves” whether or not they should take the life (kill) their baby. What a sad world. Someday will look back at this era and cringe in disgust that we were a nation so willing to kill our offspring— for “tough” or “not-so-tough” reasons!! NO “soul searching” should lead a parent to end the life of their innocent child.

  2. […] there was the matter of blogs that take a negative view Down’s syndrome and the conversation with AC of End Down Syndrome that […]

  3. […] 21, 2009 · Leave a Comment Long-term readers (hi Mum!) may remember an exchange of views played out on this blog last year with a blogger who set up a blog called End Down Syndrome in a […]

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