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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Who is the Burden?

Most of the nation is aware of the tragedy that happened to Trayvon Martin. An innocent, unarmed, 17-yr old male who was walking back home was shot and killed by a 'self-appointed' neighborhood watchman who said Trayvon looked 'suspicious.' They scuffled and Zimmerman shot him. I have no idea what instigated the scuffle, only what I've read and from the 911 reports that Zimmerman was following Trayvon, who I imagine must have felt threatened. Even if Trayvon pushed, or punched, Zimmerman first was that a reason for the shooting? Look at Zimmerman - he's a 28 yr old man, I'm sure he could've handled himself in a scuffle with a 17-yr old without the use of a deadly weapon. Now this 17 yr old kid's life is over.

Then there was the recent headline about the white Mississippi teen who pleaded guilty to fatally running over a man simply because of the color of his skin. 19 yrs old and he just received a life sentence. The victim's family asked the prosecutors not to seek the death penalty because they didn't believe in capital punishment. That kid will be in jail for a very long time.

Closer to my own home ... really right down the street...comes yet another absolutely senseless tragedy. A 20 yr old pizza delivery guy went to an apartment complex to deliver pizza. The occupants told him no order was placed for their address, so he turned to go back to his car. He was shot in the head and robbed of $38 dollars and the pizza. Seriously!? This guy's life ended because of pizza and $38? Couldn't the perpetrator just pull out the gun to rob him? Why did he have to put a bullet in his head? And the suspect? Is just 18 years old. He says he didn't do it, yet he was found with a gun and a pizza box and pizza were found in his bedroom. A second suspect, 17 yrs old, turned himself in. 3 young lives are, in essence, over. 

Aren't these men who commit these senseless crimes, killing other people, burdens to society? And unfortunately this isn't uncommon. Stories like this play out in cities and towns all across the country, every day.

And yet, people with Down syndrome are specifically targeted for elimination before they're even born.

I'm not being overly melodramatic either. That's why Sequenom named their new non-invasive prenatal diagnostic test MaterniT21. T21 for Trisomy 21. Which is the medical term for Down syndrome.

In article after article after article on Down syndrome the comment sections are rife with people hell-bent on it being right to terminate babies with Down syndrome - that they shouldn't exist at all - because they are deemed as burdens to society.

Burdens to society why? Because they may not live a completely independent life? An independent life like the ones above led? An independent life where they are cold, callous, unfeeling, and think nothing of putting a gun to a guy's head and pulling the trigger? An independent life where they think it is ok to run over a man because of the color of his skin?

As far as I'm aware people with Down syndrome are not a threat, or danger, to society. 

Yet it is people who have Down syndrome that are deemed unworthy enough by society to warrant terminating the pregnancy on the basis of an extra chromosome. It is people with Down syndrome who are having their very existence and life wiped out before it can even begin.

None of us can predict the future.

When each of those aforementioned males were born none of their parents would have thought or imagined their child would be capable of murder. None of them imagined that their child would receive a life sentence before seeing their 21st birthday.

Same applies for people with Down syndrome. We don't know what our kids might be capable of. We don't know what their future is going to look like. We don't know if they will live independently or not. We don't know what type of employment they will maintain.

But they deserve the opportunity to show us. They deserve to be born and given a chance to show us the life they'll live. They deserve to have a future.

And if they can't live completely independently? So what. So what. That does not make people with Down syndrome any less deserving of life.

Criminals are the real burdens to society. People with disabilities who might need some help living life to their fullest potential? Living a good and decent life to the best of their ability? They are not the ones who are a burden to society.

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Laura said...

Right on Michelle! I've been thinking about this a lot lately and have never been able to express my thoughts as eloquently as you did just now.

Muttering Mama said...

You blew me away with this post. Brave and beautiful!!

ckbrylliant said...

Great post. Thanks for putting this out there. Overheard two very educated African American (terms they used to describe themselves) discussing your first example in the locker room at the gym. They had two very different opinions on President Obama's addressing of the issue. BUT the discussed it calmly, passionately, and respectfully eventually agreeing that they both had good points and that a solution to these types of crimes is not easy. I wish that more people in our society would and could discuss these issues in this manner. And I am confident that the children of these women are getting an earful about it as well. Too often parents are not parenting in this manner which is only one factor in the overall problem and the lack of compassion in our society. More and more we (society) seem to lack the emotional abilities necessary for a caring and peaceful world. Personally, I turn to blogger to find people who are like minded and compassionate finding it harder and harder to connect with 'real' people, so to speak.

starrlife said...

Wonderful post Michelle! perfect really....

Tracy said...

Nice post. I had to share!

lovemy3 said...

Great post!

ChupieandJ'smama (Janeen) said...

Great post and so true!
Being of "advanced maternal age" I've been offered certain testing by my doctors, the geneticist and even my pediatrician brought it up. But I declined and the shock that all these people register is almost painful. They can not understand why I don't want the testing and even when I explain it to them, they still don't get it. I haven't written a blog post about it yet but I will once the baby is born. One doctor said something so offensive (using stronger words than burden) that I will no longer go to her.
You are correct, no one can predict the future. And one persons burden is another persons blessing.

the mommy psychologist said...

Just found your blog and will be back again. I had no idea until last year how often pregnancies were terminated when the parents found out the baby would be born with Downs. Last year my best friend got the result and made this decision. I have to admit, I was completely wrecked over it. It made me examine every previous concept I had about life.

"The child psychologist who thought she had all the answers to parenting until she became one herself."

Ron and Trish said...

well said.

Kat said...

Amen! If they only base it on the fact that they may need assisted living they still have no point. At any given time any human being could end up needing assistance. Our society today has no morals. If they would get to know an individual with Down Syndrome, our world would be a better place. My son touches the heart of everyone he meets! As a society they could learn a lot from him. Love, compassion and caring for another just to name a few.

5boysand1girlmake6.com said...

love! Absolutely love your words! Thank you for advocating for all our children! OXOX Katie

Penny's Peeps said...

Wow...so well said.... Thank you!

Cathy said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...


I know that leaving this comment in the comments section is contrary to its message, but here goes.

It is not wise to read comments, because there are many trolls who feel they can spew whatever they want because they are anonymous and thus protected from the responsibility of their words. It is a sad fact that moderators need to babysit presumably-otherwise-mature adults.

When I was pregnant, I consented to the bloodwork diagnostics, because I wanted to know if I would need to research any particular issue before my child was born. I couldn't have known she would be an extreme preemie, but I did know that if she had Down Syndrome, I'd love her forever just the same.

Treasures Evermore said...

Wow...what an incredible post....you preach it sister.