Can’t be more heavily filtered

If I strained this entry through Cheesecloth, it couldn’t be more heavily filtered.

I received an Email today entitled “Down Syndrome and Abortion”. There is, in case you don’t know, a movement afoot in the DS community that is against the recent proposed mandates for increased and mandatory prenatal testing. Specifically, those in the community are opposed to testing for DS (obviously) because it is one of the genetic abnormalities that is most frequently diagnosed, and many babies with DS are aborted.

I am pro choice. I have always been pro choice. I am violently pro choice. And having a child with DS does not change that one whit. Yes, I love Ben more than anything in this world. Yes, I chose to have him rather than not have him. BUT…a baby with DS…a child with DS is a Huge responsibility (as any baby is) and I think that if someone feels that they cannot handle that, it is their CHOICE, based on their lifestyle, to be able to not have that child. It is not my place to tell them otherwise.

The Email spoke of “arming” potential new parents with information that is presented “lovingly and gently” about what life with a child with DS is really like. I am all for this. I think that we should be educating the PUBLIC in GENERAL about this, not using the information to “scare” new parents into a decision.

Why do I say scare? Here’s why. Let me digress.

A recent article in Time (read it at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1590444,00.html) discusses the new movement in “crisis pregnancy centers”, which centers on “loving, gentle” information giving. Many of these centers are using ultrasound machines to allow mothers considering abortion to see their fetuses, name their fetuses, and know the sex of their fetuses. Consdier this with me: Lula Mae, 15, is in the back seat of a car with a boy. She knows she doesn’t want to have sex, but there she is in the heat of the moment, and it will feel good….so she does. She makes a split-second decision which changes her life, without considering all of the things she has always been taught or all the things she always thought she would do. Because she hasn’t had appropriate sex education (maybe she has, but let’s consider for a moment that she hasn’t), she doesn’t use a condom. She gets pregnant. So she goes to this crisis center, and a very nice nurse hooks her up to an ultrasound machine, and shows her the baby. Now, Lula Mae has no job, she doesn’t have a very good education (still being in high school), and her parents will throw her out of the house if they find out she is pregnant. She intends to not have this baby. But then, in a FLOOD OF EMOTION, CAUGHT UP IN THE MOMENT, looking at the tiny blurry image, she changes her mind. When she regains her senses, she is too far along to do anything about it. People would argue otherwise, but really, both decisions that Lula Mae has made are based on emotion, the moment she is caught up in. Take Lula Mae and replace her with a wife who is abused, a single mother who has no family to speak of, two people who have no family and no jobs, two successful people who are so self centered they can’t care for a dog, much less a baby. The situation remains basically the same. Decisions based on emotion rather than logic.

Where is education? Where is information about birth control? Where are programs designed to help our daughters be confident enough to not feel as if they have to get in the back of the car in the first place?

But, as I said, I digress.

In my mind, it is just as bad to HAVE a baby that you are unprepared for, or are unsure about (i know that all new parents are unsure, I mean a baby with a disability you never planned on) and not want to take care of it as it is to be (to some people) to abort that baby. I was worried when I first met parents at the DS group that some of them would be religious wing nuts that use DS as a platform for their anti-abortion views. We need to put our energy into educating the PUBLIC AS A WHOLE about life with DS, life as a parent of a DS child, and how wonderful it can be.

Pregnant mothers have enough to worry about without having someone talk them into a baby after they have just heard what may well be the most devistating news of their lives. It is a PRIVATE decision. If some stranger came to me and started talking to me the week I found out about Ben, I think I would have slugged them. Finding out you have a child with a disability is, believe me, devistating. No matter how much you love that child, no matter what the eventual outcome is, it is devistating. When I found out and began to consider my options, I felt so much stigma at even considering not having the child it was just fuel for my emotional fire. In the end, Scott and I knew we could do this. We were confident that we were ready for anything, and so Ben IS. I am lucky to have him.

But I am more lucky that it was my CHOICE.

People are afraid of information. They are afraid of information about sex, about STD’s, about birth control. Jesus, information is not a bad thing. If someone has information based on prenatal testing about their child, then they can make CHOICES. They can prepare for life with this child. They can prepare to welcome the child, or they can choose not to, if that is right for them.

In the end, it is always a choice. Being afraid to make it doesn’t make it go away. Being afraid that others will not make the same choice as you does not make the choices go away. It just makes them harder to make. I reset that others will make life harder for someone whom they have never met and don’t know.

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5 Responses to “Can’t be more heavily filtered”

  1. purlewe Says:

    do you know how much I love you?? I mean it. I seriously heart you to the moon and back. I was very worried at the beginning of this post where it would go. I know you. I know I love and respect you.. even if we were on opposite sides of the argument.. but the argument you make (so brilliant and eloquantly) is so dead on. MORE information is a good thing. Giving people choices are a VERY GOOD THING. Making sure they can know where they are going and have the right resources.

    I know that there are people out there who can’t handle a kid let alone a kid with any disabilities. Making safe, sane, logical choices is hard in just our everyday lives. We need to allow choice to continue b’c it makes us better, more informed people. Life is never black and white. It is always a varying shades of grey. I should send you the links some of my friends posted on roe v wade day.

    • coffeemomma Says:

      I am all for offering information to parents who find out their kids may have DS IF THEY WANT IT TO MAKE THEIR CHOICE. I think that is a logical way to make a choice. I resent having that information be slanted with an anti-abortion view. I think that is irresponsible and really, just plain wrong. Honestly, I would be able to give information to a new couple, but I know what they would ask me….would I do it all again knowing what I know now. And really, I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t. I want to say I do, but the choice I would have made the week of Ben’s birth is different from what I would make now, and it’s different than a hundred other days, and those hundred other days are all different too. The point is, it is a personal decision.
      We don’t have enough support for all aspects of sexuality (education, girl power, boy power, contraception) nor of our society (support for single, working, and poor families) to start telling people what to do with their bodies. And even if we did, I still think that we shouldn’t be telling people what to do with their bodies.

      • purlewe Says:

        But see, not knowing is the beauty of it. If you don’t know and only get ONE version.. then it isn’t a choice.. is it? So if you had gotten one vesion and that was your only version you would have done it.. and then resented finding out later that you had 2 versions to chose from.

        So you looked at both options and you picked what worked for you at the time. And really.. that is all you can say. No more no less. And anyone who thinks you can look back with hindsite and make a better choice is lying. B’c you have more knowledge and the choice is not the same.

      • coffeemomma Says:

        I am a strong believer in not looking back. We do the best we know with what we know. And things work out the way they are supposed to. If we gather all the information we have, we make the decision based on that point in our lives, and that is all we can do.
        I know it sounds fatalistic, but I’m really not. I also think that sometimes what we know and what we do AREN’T the best choice, and that’s okay. But sometimes, things work out better than you thought they could. Hence, we learn because we are supposed to learn to make choices in the future. I couldn’t make the choice with Ben again now, because it would be an inherantly different choice because my place in life is different.
        I sound like a college freshman trying to be smart, but I think you get what I’m trying to say. 🙂

  2. twoscoopsmsu Says:

    amen sista!!

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