On the “Parenting blog” at The New York Times, a mother of a Down Syndrome Child argues for the legality of killing unborn children diagnosed with Down Syndrome. I found it ironic that it’s on the parenting blog though.
Alison Piepmeier, the director of the women’s and gender studies program at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, whose website states that she “takes on the patriarchy” argues against North Dakota’s law to ban abortion due to “fetal defects.”:
As part of my research for a book on prenatal testing and reproductive decision-making, I have talked with women who terminated their pregnancies when they learned that the fetus had Down syndrome. For most of these women, abortion was an incredibly painful decision. These were wanted pregnancies in which the fetus was already identified as a child, and often even named.
Repeatedly women told me that they ended the pregnancy not because they wanted a “perfect child” (as one woman said, “I don’t know what ‘perfect child’ even means”) but because they recognized that the world is a difficult place for people with intellectual disabilities.
One woman told me, “The thing is I could not, in good conscience, from the get-go, know that my child has these setbacks in life.” Another identified adulthood as the challenge: “There is no part of caring for an infant or school-aged child with Down syndrome that we didn’t think we could handle. We chose to terminate mostly on the basis of our understanding of the challenges and quality of life he and our family would face if/when he lived to be over age 21: his middle age, and end of life.”
Another woman talked quite a bit about rape. She was assaulted as a child, she knew that the statistics for sexual abuse were high for people with intellectual disabilities, and she was determined that her daughter would not experience that, so that was one of the reasons she terminated her pregnancy. She referred to her abortion several times as “the protective choice.”
All these women grieved, but did not regret, their abortions. A state law banning abortion would not have stopped them from terminating their pregnancies, it would just have made an incredibly difficult process even more difficult for them. Indeed, more than one mother I spoke with traveled out of state for her abortion because the pregnancy was too advanced for her to have an abortion in her home state.
So in order to avoid their children suffering from setbacks mothers instead decide to destroy them in the womb. That, to me, seems like the scariest thought in the world. Because life is an uphill climb for everyone at times. Everyone. Should we all be spared from life? Having a baby is always a little scary and more so for mothers who learn their children have medical problems. But abortion is not a reset button. It’s the taking of a human life.
Abortion can seem like an easy solution. And love is hard. Love is hard because life is hard but that’s what makes love so much more miraculous and improbable. I pray that we all choose to be part of the miracle that is life.