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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Down Syndrome, Abortion, Eugenics

Two recent blog posts have been on my mind over the past several days. I have too much to say to leave my thoughts in a comment section, thus my own blog post.

The posts were a bit hard to read as I felt they were brash and demeaning towards individuals with Down syndrome ... and of course I have a completely different point of view since I'm raising a child with Down syndrome.

Her argument is that abortion based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome isn't eugenics and those who claim it is are ignorant to the definition of what eugenics is. She says that eugenics is, 'in short...the science of improving the human population through controlled breeding." (That definition is in the The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary.) Since it is a women's choice to have an abortion and it isn't being systematically forced on them via the government, then it isn't eugenics.

I would take it a step further and say an acceptable broader reach of that definition - improving the human population - also means the elimination of, or prevention of, people with disabilities ala Peter Singer. "It endorses selection according to desirable and undesirable genetic traits, and favors the elimination of the latter."

I agree that abortion is a woman's choice. But beyond that I'll argue that there is a difference in having an abortion because you don't want a baby and having an abortion because the baby you wanted and planned to have was diagnosed with Down syndrome. In that case you're not aborting because it wasn't the right time to have a baby, but instead aborting the baby you planned to have because of a genetic condition. Yes, I know it's still the woman's choice to continue the pregnancy after receiving such a diagnosis, but there is another option - adoption.

There doesn't have to be the widespread encouragement that the 'best' thing to do is abort a baby with Down syndrome. That is the systematic elimination of people with Down syndrome because of their genetic make-up and continued misinformation of what life is actually like for a person with Down syndrome, or raising a child with Down syndrome. In the broader sense of the definition that falls under eugenics. One only has to read the article about Denmark wanting to be a Down-syndrome free country to see this is happening.

The majority of information given from the medical community is negative and a whole bunch of potential medical problems. The entire life of a person with Down syndrome is reduced to all the medical complications they might encounter. What about all the other aspects of their lives? There is more to life than just what you might have to deal with medically.

The above blog posts continues to perpetuate the negative as well with this "There are a lot of complications and repercussions in embracing this condition as a normal part of the human gene pool. Some conditions are at higher risk with this disorder such as infertility, epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, cancers of several kinds, thyroid disorders, gastrointestinal issues, celiac disease, Hirschsprung's disease, deafness, blindness, cataracts, spinal cord compression and other issues."

All of those conditions are NOT unique to Down syndrome and they occur in the rest of the human gene pool as well. You most certainly can have any of those conditions and NOT have Down syndrome. Having epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, and cancer etc is not limited to individuals with Down syndrome. Any one of us could develop any of those medical conditions so how is it fair to say those with Ds are at a higher risk (and just how much higher is the risk? For some of those conditions it could be a small, slightly increased risk) for those conditions and should therefore be eliminated? You could be at higher risk for heart disease because of your own family history, so should you have been eliminated? Should you not have children of your own because they might get heart disease? You can't predict what medical conditions a person with Down syndrome might develop.

And a piece of information that is usually left out is that those with Down syndrome who are diagnosed with cancer have a higher incidence of surviving cancer.

She continues with the 'dangers of carrying a child afflicted by this condition' and among the lists of these dangers are: hearing loss, frequent ear infections, hypothyroidism, cervical spine instability, visual impairment, sleep apnea, obesity, constipation, and on and on.

"Dangers" seems a bit dramatic to me. Certainly a cervical spine instability is dangerous to the child if not detected and corrected (which is why the medical guidelines for Down syndrome include having an xray done to check for AAI). We've come a long way with medical care and all of those 'dangers' can be helped by the medical establishments. And again - each and every one of those problems can happen in the typical population as well ... they are NOT unique only to people with Down syndrome.

Despite all the negative information given with a Down syndrome diagnosis, and misconception that those with Ds and their families 'suffer' studies show the opposite to be true. Those with Down syndrome are happy with their lives and are not suffering.

Down syndrome is a naturally-occurring part of the genetic make-up that has occurred before it was ever identified as such. Who are we to say that it is 'abnormal' to be born with 3 21st chromosomes instead of 2? Who decided to say that it can't happen both ways (as it obviously does). It is just a part of how you're created - blond hair, curly hair, freckles, Trisomy 21.  

In her comment section she goes on to say, "Down's Syndrome will (hopefully) eventually be another one of the crippling, hindering conditions of mankind eliminated from our genome. How is that not considered eugenics? Eliminate an entire group of human beings from 'our genome' because they have 3 chromosomes instead of two? People with Down syndrome are very much the same part of 'our genome' and throughout history, as a whole, have done nothing to others to deserve such vile hatred and contempt for their mere existence. They also do not live with a crippling, hindering condition.

It continues with, "Ultimately, if more people were better educated they would see that eliminating something so horrid from our gene pool would only benefit the future generations of the human race. It's a non-arguable topic, to be quite honest." Again, this thought process is eugenics because it's based on benefiting and bettering the human race by targeting and eliminating a group of people based on what? A medical condition. A syndrome. They are targeted before birth for elimination.

I'm trying not to take the description of 'so horrid' personally, but honestly, there is nothing 'horrid' in my beautiful daughter. I find the views and opinions on those blog posts utterly horrid and close-minded. And I will be forever thankful that a child with 3 copies of the 21st chromosome was created in my womb and not the writer's; because if it were reversed that child wouldn't be here today to fully enjoy life and all it has to offer. 

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Becca said...

Ugh, I hate reading those kinds of articles and posts. I'm glad you did, though, and have summarized it here. Would you be able to link this post in a comment to the author? I think she really needs to see that what she's written is contradictory and, more frighteningly, *incorrect.*

Chelsea Hoffman said...

@becca -- I would really only respond with this link:


which was sourced with factual references ;) on which I formed my opinion.

The crying of those who only wish things meant what they wanted them to mean, doesn't interest me.

If you don't like reading my posts - don't read them. It's simply just that simple. Otherwise, continue blogging about me and give me more publicity about my support for a woman's right to choose what's best for her family.

I'm flattered though, as pathetic as this obsession with my opinions might be. Thanks.

Muttering Mama said...

Michelle, I love this post and agree with it completely. I am about as pro-choice and women's rights as you will get, and was disgusted by selective termination even before L's birth. In fact, I joked after her diagnosis that God gave me one because I was always on my soapbox about it! haha. (And I will be eternally grateful that He did.)

I also think it's hilarious that you put such a bee in Ms. Hoffman's bonnet. I enjoy the double standard that she can spread her message but takes such exception at seeing it contradicted. Very balanced and thoughtful approach. Love it.

Keep on keeping on, sister. xo

my family said...

amen sista.
well put so so sad people are "horridly" close minded! if they only knew a little about our children then they may change their tune rather than listening people who dont get it

Leah said...

It's just unbelievable to think that the writer feels that her opinions are not debatable. Isn't that the point of opinions, that they are open to being debated. Especially when the same person admits that said "opinions" were sourced with factual references. Those opinions are not facts. Pretty ridiculous. And sad that she had to resort to bashing your post. Thanks for posting your own perspective and countering some of these "factual references".

Chelsea Hoffman said...

My analytics traced some pretty nasty threats to this blog..

I'd be ashamed of myself.

You know who else attacks and threatens when they feel like their silly opinions are threatened? Terrorists, fascists... people who are nazi-like. ;)

Keep on proving me right.. and the threats that are coming from readers of this blog in particular, are nothing more than childish nonsense from people who are undoubtedly angry about the lives they've chosen to live. Not my problem, but the threats on my person have been reported along with this blog since they were directed from here.

Michelle said...

I have nothing to be ashamed about. In no part of my post did I personally attack you, nor did I direct anyone to attack you. I didn't even suggest anyone go comment on your blog. I merely linked to your blog as a reference of my post so people could read for themselves.

I will give you this- maybe it isn't eugenics, but it is genocide. And that certainly doesn't make it any more right or acceptable.

Chelsea Hoffman said...

@Michelle -- a woman making the personal choice to abort a fetus afflicted by a chromosomal defect isn't genocide.

I own a dictionary, and there are several online.

Maybe you should encourage your more radical fans that threatening violence in the name of the cause you are pushing (with flawed understanding of terminology it seems) is not only bad for your cause but it's criminal.


Michelle said...

- I can assure you I don't have 'radical fans' my blog has never been about anything radical and I would never direct anyone to go make personal attacks against anyone else. I don't presume to hold that much influence over anyone who reads my blog.

- I am not like the group of people you described in your post about referring to everything one disagrees with as Nazi-like. I haven't done that and I've not compared anyone to Hitler (nor have I compared women who tx for T21 nazi-like or Hitler-like. I'm not radical or full of activism in that regard.

- Your statement that eliminating something so horrid from the gene pool would benefit the human race is akin to genocide - eliminating a group of people based on one common thing - their extra chromosome.

Down syndrome can never be eliminated, or wiped out, because it isn't a disease. It happens at conception. There isn't a way to prevent that from happening. The only way to eliminate Ds is to prevent babies who have it from being born at all.

- I have only ever advocated for awareness of people with Ds. They are human beings and just because they have an extra chromosome does not mean they are any less deserving of life or have any less value. They make up the human race just as much as you or I.

- I have advocated for more accurate, up-to-date information on raising a child with Ds. It is not filled with all the negatives that society portrays it as. And I have only advocated that abortion does not have to be the best, or only, option for a prenatal dx. Adoption is a very real option. There is a waiting list of families who want to adopt babies/kids with Ds.

- It's about more than a woman making the choice to tx; it's about the encouragement of the medical establishment pushing and/or encouraging the tx. It's about companies developing prenatal tests to detect Ds earlier in a pg so tx is easier. It's about people with Ds being targeted for termination and elimination when they have done nothing to deserve this mission to destroy their existence.

Chelsea Hoffman said...

I didn't read all that; just do me a favor and let all your radical fans know that your writing about me is not an endorsement to send death threats and other general threats of violence.

Sure seems to me that you would rather NOT tell your people to not be violent. They are your people because they came from your blog. I have the analytics of my own blog to prove it -- otherwise I'd not have even known about this ;)

As stated before the threats have been turned into the respective police agencies that coincide with the IP addresses that sent the threats, but I have also reported this blog as the source of the threats with the photographic proof.

Since you are blowing off my professional request to do the proper and right thing by adding a disclaimer to your piece about me warning AGAINST threats of violence, I will assume that you are advocating violence against those who are not in line with your point of view. Since, again, the threats originated from your blog. And again I have the proof presented to Google (owner of blogspot).

As for the rest of what you're saying; didn't read it and don't really care. I'm not interested in your opinion. At all. But if you're going to write about people and encourage mobs against people, at least show the human decency of adding disclaimers that you don't condone "mob mentality" -- because your blog did exactly that; sent a mob my way that was far less than civil.

Granted, my adsense went up tremendously, and I am donating the proceeds to Planned Parenthood. :) So in a way, you're contributing to some abortions. Maybe some of those will be for good reasons instead of "just not wanting a kid" (good grief).

Michelle said...

First you said "maybe you should encourage your fans against threatening violence.."

Then in another comment you said, "Do me a favor and let your fans know my writing about you was not an endorsement of death threats..." and in the same comment you said, "Since you're blowing off my professional request to do the right thing by adding a disclaimer..."

You never made a 'professional request" and you didn't give me a chance to respond to your request that I "do you a favor" before insinuating in the same breath that I was blowing off such a 'professional request.'

Just because someone found your blog because I linked to it does not mean any threats came from THIS blog. The threats themselves didn't originate nor come from THIS blog or myself. I never directed anyone to do such a thing. And I have no control over what someone else does. Just because someone clicked on your blog from my blog doesn't necessarily mean they are readers of my blog. They could have found my blog from a link from someone else. That's how I found your blog - it was linked from someone else, I wasn't a reader of your blog when I came across those posts. There are people who aren't readers of my blog but who happened to come across my post and then went to your blog.

The IP addresses are from the people themselves who chose to write what they did, but lets not confuse that with the threats actually coming FROM my blog. I am the only author of this blog and there aren't ANY threats on this blog directed towards anyone.

Chelsea Hoffman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bailey's Leaf said...

I'm sorry this had to get so ugly for you, Michelle. I find nothing in your writing that suggests a blogland uprising against Ms. Hoffman. Hopefully, she won't continue to hold other peoples opinions (and sadly whatever threats of violence she received) against you. You were not the one who generated the threats and I'm glad that Ms. Hoffman seems pleased enough with the confirmation that you did not suggest violence nor do you condone it to avoid "legally ugly." So sad to be blamed for other people's bad behavior.

Hopefully, all this blogland crap is over.

Crittle said...

What a loon.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

I really don't understand abortion very well to begin with. I cannot imagine a situation where I would choose it; it would have to be extreme. So to think of aborting simply because my baby had a chromosonal difference(especially one that is not terminal) doesn't make sense to me. I absolutely don't understand it.

That said, I feel for the women who have been coerced and guilted into terminating pregnancies based upon a Ds diagnosis. I cannot imagine the guilt and pain that would follow me through my life; especially every time I met a beautiful and outgoing child like Kayla.

It sounds like Denmark is going to increase its propaganda to scare pregnant women into aborting. It sounds like no aid or assistance will be available for those who would choose to keep their child with Ds. I can see how a nation could be shamed and scared into choosing to abort. It's frightening how much power the government can wield over something like this...

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Oh my GOD, I just read that Chelsea lady's comments. Michelle, she is a small, small woman with a serious need for attention. I recommend that no one responds to her comments anymore. People like her get off on the attention.

You represented yourself really well and kept your cool. I don't know that I would have done so well.

Rachel Douglas said...

You are a gifted expresion of words. I have tried to say this exact thing but it ends up a jumble. Thank you for putting yourself out there and taking it so to speak on the chin for us all.
I find it interesting when a person won't read your words yet debates them. And you have the same number of chromosomes....
A narcissistic lack of respect for any individual who is different in opinion or form from oneself is well....egocentric.
I am not sure of the percent of our population who develop egocentrism but it might be worth investigating since many are focused on determining value of life based on a single difference.

Ms. Kathleen said...

What nut wrote that blog post? Wow! Ignorance is certainly not bliss in her or his case.

I do have to disagree with you on one topic though. I think abortion should be illegal. To me it is the murder of a perfectly innocent child. Just my opinion of course.

Oh, an your daughter is indeed one beautiful little girl.

starrlife said...

If they weeded out small minded, small hearted and mean spirited people who value ideas over people than Ms Chelsea would not be here would she. Irony......
Pro-choice is an honorable position when not invaded by such as these.

Not a Perfect Mom said...

I can't even read those articles anymore, they make me sick...
and honestly, I've seen this posted for a few days and didn't want to read it...only because I knew you'd quote and then my stomach would be all flip floppy

Shannon said...

Chelsea Hoffman is a piece of trash who deserves no attention. Really, stop giving it to her. Its what she wants. Lets all put her back in her dark pathetic hole she came from and continue loving our amazing kiddos who actually will better this world, unlike her

hodonn said...

Hi - I just found your blog whilst googling for information about DS. So to clarify to Chelsea Hoffman, should she ever troll here again: I'm not a reader, I was linked from google.

Michelle, she's clearly got her own issues. You come off well in altercation, as informed and intelligent, rather than a small child throwing a tantrum, and using poor lexic.

You may be interested in this article:


Just goes to show, having DS does not mean lack of ambition, social skills, awareness, intelligence or career! :) All the best.

Anonymous said...

You and your readers may want to join our facebook page, "Chelsea Hoffman Sucks." Currently we have 500 members and continue to grow. We devise strategies to combat her misinformation, expose her lies and have some fun at her expense.

One of the things everyone very upset with is her reprehensible, casual, and repeated use of the word "retarded." Her blog posts on Down's Syndrome offended even people who are pro-choice.

Right nnow we are in the planning stages of an online petition to express our displeasure with her to allvoices.com, her biggest platform.

Thank you for your time. I hope you and your readers will join us.

Anonymous said...

There is now a petition requesting allvoices.com to sever its relationship with Chelsea Hoffman. We have about a thoudand signatures in less than two days.