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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Down Syndrome Isn't A Disease

There is yet another article out about the potential new prenatal test for Ds. The one that tests the mother's blood for Down syndrome via her DNA. I've read other articles on it and posted about it here.

The article I read yesterday - Down syndrome test breakthrough on the horizon - made me so upset based on the language used to describe Down syndrome, and the blatantly obvious one-sided termination angle.

According to Philippos Patsalis of the Institute of Neurology and Genetics in Nicosia, this test is "one of the most important milestones in the history of the institute." Really? An earlier and less-invasive prenatal test for Ds is one of the most important milestones for this institute? What else do they do there? Do they not work on anything other than coming up with a new prenatal test for Ds?

It gets better.

Patsalis goes on to say that the "cheaper and quicker method of blood sampling rather than collecting fluid from the womb will encourage more couples to take the test and therefore slowly eradicate the disease."

Slowly eradicate the disease. I had to let that sink in. Slowly eradicate the disease.

Wait a minute. Down syndrome isn't a disease. It's a syndrome. A group of characteristics shared by individuals who have an extra copy of chromosome 21.

You can not "eradicate" Down syndrome because it happens at conception. But you can "eradicate" babies from being born with Down syndrome by stopping those babies from being born at all.

You're not eradicating a disease, you're not even eradicating Down syndrome itself (because it will still happen), but what you are doing is eradicating human beings. A segment of the population. A percentage of the human race.

He's assuming that because more couples will take the test that will mean more couples will chose to terminate their pregnancy. A rate that is already high - 90% of women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Ds chose to terminate.

And he pretty much comes right out and says this is a test for those who will terminate, never once mentioning that maybe some will take the test to know, not to terminate, but to prepare for raising their baby with Ds, or placing that baby for adoption. Instead it's all about the termination of babies with Ds.

"There is no cure, so this is a test for couples who want to know and prevent it..." Prevent it. Again, you can not prevent Down syndrome from happening; you can only prevent those who have it, from being born at all.

Eugenics, anyone?

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RK said...

It's sad. A little scary. I keep trying not to get defensive, but the truth is that this is a targeted attempt to have fewer people like my daughter in this world. And that's hard not to get defensive about...

Cindy said...

Oh my word. The article shows their ignorance about Down Syndrome. Very sad. It was very hard to read... without getting angry!

Anonymous said...

Grrrrrrrr..... ignorance supremo! Thanks for that Michelle.

Mom24 said...

Oh my gosh Michelle. I don't even have words for this. That is so incredibly awful. I am so sorry, I can imagine how it might make you feel, but I'm also sorry for a society that wuld think of this as a goal. Can you imagine what that person who wrote the article or is quoted in the article must be like? *shudder*

Not a Perfect Mom said...

reading articles like that make me nauseous...ugh..
I just want to go there and shake them til their teeth rattle!

Stuff could always be worse said...

This is a scary thought. I appreciate you educating me about Downs Syndrome. I have never known much about it, but it is not a disease!

Nicole said...

Love this post! It puts so much into words what I have been thinking about lately. Thanks for expressing it so well :)

Anonymous said...

I have a disability and that's pretty offensive because I agree with you completely you should use it to prepare for having a baby with DS and not terminting a pregnancy. I'm happy that my parents didn't terminate me. I'm happy that I'm alive. I have a lot to offer in this world:)Ok, I may need to do things a little bit different then other people but I still have a lot to offer in this world anyway:) It really hurts when people say stuff like that.

Michelle Z said...

oh my gosh, that is sickening. Seriously -- have these people never met a person with Down syndrome? Are they really that oblivious?