Tragically, 90% of women who are given the prenatal diagnosis that their baby will have Down syndrome end the life of their unborn child through abortion. This unnerving statistic reminds us in the pro-life community that we need to work harder to protect the rights of the disabled.
It is true that children affected by Down’s have unique challenges and struggles. They are born with an extra copy of chromosome 21, which stunts their growth both intellectually and physically. They sometimes require additional medical care because they are more prone to medical conditions such as: thyroid problems, intestinal abnormalities, heart defects, seizure disorders, and infections.
While all these abnormalities come with their own set of difficulties, killing people with Down syndrome is not the answer. They are a part of the human family and deserve our utmost protection.
However, these days we hear more and more stories of mothers choosing abortion because they don’t want a “retarded” child. And unfortunately, sometimes doctors feed this ideology by striking fear into the hearts of women because their baby might have the condition.
For example, a 33-year-old woman was told that her children would likely have Down’s and it nearly ruined her pregnancies. Marcy Richards (not her real name to protect her privacy) shared more with the Daily Mail.
She said, “I was devastated when I got a phone call saying the test showed a higher risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome.Doctors wanted me to undergo a CVS test, but I refused because by then I’d discovered the risk of miscarriage – around one to two babies in 100 – was higher than my chance of having a baby with Down’s.”
In July 2009, Marcy delivered her son and he was healthy.
Then, two years later when she was pregnant with her daughter doctors pressured her to have a CVS again because her baby had a one in 24 chance of having the condition.
She said, “It shocked me how keen they were for me to go in so fast for an invasive test that could have caused a miscarriage, simply so I could be “reassured”. I couldn’t have lived with myself if that had resulted in me losing my precious daughter.”
For her most recent pregnancy, she and her husband, Paul Freshwater, decided to refuse all testing because it caused unnecessary grief.
She said, “Paul and I felt even if we were having a baby with Down’s we would not terminate the pregnancy. I am shocked at the thought that so many women must have further tests to be ‘reassured’ only to lose a healthy baby.” She concluded, “I spent my whole pregnancies obsessed my children might not be healthy. I couldn’t just relax and enjoy the experience.”
Earlier this year, Marcy gave birth to her third child and she born without any abnormalities.