[U]nder a new recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, doctors have begun to offer a new, safer screening procedure to all pregnant women, regardless of age.For those who are opposed to abortion across the board, this is not a difficult question. And apparently -- look at that 90 percent figure -- those who support abortion rights don't have qualms based on the idea of "accepting human diversity" when it comes to the matter of choice over what kind of family they will have.
About 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion.
Convinced that more couples would choose to continue their pregnancies if they better appreciated what it meant to raise a child with Down syndrome, a growing group of parents are seeking to insert their own positive perspectives into a decision often dominated by daunting medical statistics and doctors who feel obligated to describe the difficulties of life with a disabled child.
They are pressing obstetricians to send them couples who have been given a prenatal diagnosis and inviting prospective parents into their homes to meet their children. In Massachusetts, for example, volunteers in a “first call” network linking veteran parents to new ones are now offering support to couples deciding whether to continue a pregnancy.
The parent evangelists are driven by a deep-seated fear for their children’s well-being in a world where there are fewer people like them. But as prenatal tests become available for a range of other perceived genetic imperfections, they may also be heralding a broader cultural skirmish over where to draw the line between preventing disability and accepting human diversity.
But 90 percent! That must mean that a lot of women who support restrictions on abortion would still have an abortion if they knew the child would have Down syndrome. In the future, it seems, anyone taking care of a child with Down syndrome will be viewed as a saint... or, perhaps, misguided and foolish.
IN THE COMMENTS: This is important, from bearing:
Remember that this doesn't mean "90 percent of all unborn children who have DS are aborted," but "90 percent of all unborn children who are diagnosed before birth are aborted."
Many women who are opposed to abortion decline the DS tests on the grounds that they are not actionable information. I've had three pregnancies and never had any tests for that reason. So -- I don't know how many, but a lot of the strongly-opposed-to-abortion people are not part of that calculation. You'd need to know what fraction of people actually get tested to know how often people betray their principles to abort a child with DS.
ADDED: Andrew Sullivan links here and says:
Conservatives Who AbortIn the comments here, TMink says:
Ann Althouse peers into a not-too-pretty closet.
[S]ome parents would abort a child if a test suggested that the child would be homosexual.I didn't mean for this post only to question conservatives. I want to question liberals too. I wonder about the liberals who oppose discrimination against the disabled, but would abort their child because it is disabled. I assume these people would support gay rights for the living but feel justified aborting their own child if they there were a test that showed it was going to be gay.
Awful. Tragic. Sinful.
I am not trying to be judgmental, I am speaking about myself and my wife. As Christians, we trusted God to give us the child we wanted. We tried fertility treatments, to no avail.
It is one thing to support abortion rights -- I believe it should be the pregnant woman's choice -- but rejecting interference with that choice doesn't mean you see no question of morality. What are the wrong reasons to abort? Shouldn't we talk about that? Some religious conservatives like TMink say that they trust God to give them the child that is meant to be. Others, it seems, judging from the 90% statistic, make an exception for themselves and have the abortion. But isn't there something equivalent for social liberals? Shouldn't they have moral standards about what reasons are acceptable for an abortion?
MORE: William Saletan reads the same article I did and sums it up this way:
Official rationales: 1) Down's kids are a joy and not such a burden. 2) Routine abortion of them is a step toward eugenics. Unofficial rationale: If no more kids are born with the syndrome, society's support for kids already affected will evaporate. Cynical view: Misery loves company. Hardcore pro-choice view: This smells like pro-life pressure tactics.