Monday, August 3, 2015

Sadness-Tinged Joy about the Special Olympics

Christina participating in swimming at our local pool. 
The closing ceremonies of the Special Olympics in Los Angeles was marked by joyful celebration. There is certainly a lot to celebrate since President George HW Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law twenty five years  ago. In the years before the law was passed, many Americans with disabilities were left to languish in institutions without proper educational, social, health care or athletic opportunities. So much ground has been covered, its as if society has been transformed. But an important piece has been overlooked, and that's why I can't find joy in my heart for the 25th Anniversary of the ADA.

What is it?
If you watched any of the scant news  coverage of the four undercover Planned Parenthood videos, you will understand my pain. Over 54 million Americans lost their lives in abortion since its legalization and too many of those were aborted specifically because they had disabilities.
Listen to the heartbreaking reasons why parents aborted their child after a diagnosis of Down syndrome.
  • I just couldn’t do it, couldn’t be that kind of mother who accepts everything, loves her kid no matter what. What about me? Maybe it’s selfish, I don’t know. But I just didn’t want all those problems in my life. (138)
  • It’s devastating, it’s a waste, all the love that goes into kids like that. (134)

Instead of focusing on research to improve the lives of people with disabilities by helping them overcome memory loss or difficulties in communicating, most of the research money was spent in developing earlier, less invasive methods of prenatal testing.(as many as 90% of parents will abort their child with Down syndrome after receiving a diagnosis of Down syndrome.)
Introduced in 2011, new NIPT Non Invasive Prenatal Screening methods gave parents a very reliable result at only 10-12 weeks of pregnancy using only a maternal blood sample. Further testing such as amnio is needed to make the diagnosis of Down syndrome, yet its feared that the abortion rate for babies with Down syndrome climbed as much as 34%. as a result of this new technology.

Talk about a step backward!

In a cruel irony, life has never been better for those with Down syndrome around the world, Opportunities and achievements are breaking all barriers, people with Down syndrome grace our TV and movie screens, college campuses and fashion magazines. Yet we still don't see a significant downward trend in abortion for such babies.

Why hasn't the abortion rate for Down syndrome gone down?
 Is it that we as parents haven't reached out enough?
Since 2002 when my daughter Christina was born, opportunities for sharing our daily life as famlies with members with Down syndrome have blossomed online and in print media. Gone are the days when Googling Down syndrome led to only dreadful results. But we have a long long way to go until babies with Down syndrome are welcomed as joyfully as their typical counterparts. The late term abortions discussed in the Planned Parenthood videos are too often those babies whose disability turned eager anticipation to a challenge which parents are rejecting after prenatal testing.

Is that all?
But the threat doesn't; end once our precious children are born. They are overwhelmingly happy wiht their lives and most families agree that they are great assets to their families and the community. But the power brokers do not agree. They want to deny them full access to health care.

As Betsy McCaughey said in her Op Ed in the New York Post. 
Take heed, ObamaCare architect Ezekiel Emanuel. He’s argued that organ transplants and other scarce resources shouldn’t go to the mentally disabled, who are “irreversiblly prevented” from contributing fully to society. Fortunately, 87 percent of Americans disagree with that cold calculation, according to the new national poll, and want the intellectually disabled to have accessto organ transplants.
It’s a sign that Americans are becoming ready to embrace the humanity of the intellectually disabled. 
Let us work and pray for the day when we can say without irony that people are fully included in our society no matter what their score on an IQ test.

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