Kids With Trisomy 18 Are Not “Incompatible With Life”

Opinion   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Nov 1, 2011   |   10:14AM   |   Washington, DC

Trisomy 18 is a genetic condition where a person has three copies of chromosome 18.  Trisomy 21, three copies of chromosome 21, is the genetic condition that causes Down Syndrome.  Both are caused by three copies of a chromosome, but trisomy 18 is considered to be “incompatible with life.”  This is a medical term that means that most children with trisomy 18 die before or shortly after birth.

There are exceptions.  A little 2 year-old boy at my neighborhood pool has trisomy 18 and swims and plays with the best of them.  It is clear to me he is very “compatible with life.”  His mother told me she was glad she didn’t know he had trisomy 18 when she was pregnant because she knows the doctors would have put tremendous pressure on her to abort him.

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s daughter Bella also has trisomy 18.  They were told she would die shortly after birth.  She is now 3 years old.  In the following video Santorum says this about Bella:

I look at the joy and I look at the simplicity and the love that she emits and its clear to me that we are the disabled ones not her.  She’s got it right.  She’s got a beautiful spirit.  One that emits unconditional love and we can learn a lot from that.

So far from being “incompatible with life” Bella is fully compatible with life.  A life worth emulating for its unconditional love and joy.

A recent study revealed that 99% of adults with trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome) reported being happy.  Such a statistic would never be possible in the “normal” adult population. Some would say that the world needs more of the happiness and joy of people with trisomy 18 and 21 and yet they are the ones being targeted for destruction in the womb.  So very sad. Note: Rebecca Taylor is a clinical laboratory specialist in molecular biology, and a practicing pro-life Catholic who writes at the bioethics blog Mary Meets Dolly. She has been writing and speaking about Catholicism and biotechnology for five years and has been interviewed on EWTN radio on topics from stem cell research and cloning to voting pro-life. Taylor has a B.S. in Biochemistry from University of San Francisco with a national certification in clinical Molecular Biology MB (ASCP).