By Sophie Daavettila
Within the recent years, the percentages of women getting abortions regarding a down syndrome fetus is increasing. There has been much controversy over the argument whether or not there should be legal actions taken to prevent abortions when dealing with a down syndrome child. Just like everything in life, there are many people who strongly agree with this and many people who have opposing views on this matter.
I do not know really anything about this topic, but it is something that I feel could be beneficial for me to be educated on, so that is why I was interested to learn about it in the first place. This subject is difficult to discuss because many parents cherish their child with down syndrome, and many of those kids live on to experience a beautiful life. In the last decade especially, more and more states including Utah, Alabama and Georgia are establishing a bill that bans doctors to perform abortions on women if the fetus has down syndrome. “So far in 2019, 17 bans have been signed in 10 states, however none of those laws are currently in effect” (Keneally 1).
Many women are unprepared to make prenatal decisions about babies with down syndrome. “The majority of mothers reported that their physicians talked little about up- to-date- printed materials and positive effects of DS” (Skotko 1). This makes me think to myself what is preventing these laws from being used, and how putting this pressure on women is causing chaos in the government when it comes to these restrictions and regulations.
To me, this seems unfair and critical to judge women that are put in an unwanted and tough position. “In recent years, there has been a shocking increase in abortions performed for no other reason than because a prenatal test identified the potential for a trait a parent didn’t like” (Cha 1). Even though abortions are legal in every state, the new issue present is the Republican party trying to use the argument that these laws should be strictly enforced because it is about “Protecting and valuing people with disabilities” (McCammon 1).
One question that seems to be commonly asked is “How is it dealt with when disability rights and abortion rights collide?” This question is a tricky one, and many of the women who go through this hardship have to deal with backlash for not only reasons of aborting a child, but also to make it seem more extreme if the child had down syndrome. The truth is, no one can blindly expect anyone to submit them self to take measurements for a “special” child when it comes to extra care, such as medical bills, treatments and education. A popular speaker named Ann Ferudi involved in pro-choice organizations said, “You might disapprove of a woman’s reason for an abortion, but it’s not your decision to make, it’s a matter of personal choice” (Aghaz 1).
Controversies continue to make their way through this matter, aggravating people all around the globe. There are different laws that vary from state to state, some states not even having this bill associated with it. The main goal or the matter of the fact for the enforcers of this law is to have a standard regulation that it would be a crime for doctors to perform abortions when dealing with a child who has down syndrome. Many argue that it is different than regular abortions because since the number of them have increased by so much, it is a more serious affair when the child has a health condition, and that should be taken into deep consideration.
Throughout my research, I also found another large factor that comes into play when dealing with down syndrome abortions, and it has to do with age. This is because it makes sense when it comes to the age of the mother, that will play a role as well when it comes to the healthiness of the child. There are options, of course, depending on the situation. Doctors and health care professionals are there to support whoever is in a scenario where pregnancy is the case and the person is deciding whether having an abortion or putting the child up for adoption is best. It is different for each woman what is best all around. However, in the end, it is not the doctors, family members, or even the spouse’s decision, only the person carrying this fetus can choose what feels is the best decision.
Now a days, there are prenatal tests physicians and other caregivers that are required to offer all pregnant women to test for down syndrome, since that is the current standard of care. “Failing to follow the standard of care opens prenatal caregivers to being sued for malpractice” (Kaposy 1). Medical professionals typically do not offer tests for conditions that are beneficial. This message exemplifies that down syndrome is pathological, and something that should be avoided.
To make matters worse, the discussion about prenatal testing is usually rushed, which makes parents uncertain in completely understanding all of the knowledge, therefore the information is rushed and can be overrun in the sense of talking through medical complications, and the cognitive limits that is linked with down syndrome. This concept is important for people to understand because having a perfectly healthy child is never a guarantee, and it is crucial to know the risk factors and effects of having a down syndrome kid.
For me, I am not fully convinced that having this law is going to have much of a positive outcome and impact for women thinking about aborting the down syndrome fetus. So, I cannot say I fully agree with it. I think that in these types of situations it is best to give women as many options and freedom possible, the less input the better. More so because this is no one else’s business. Whatever it takes, I hope that women get more say over their own bodies, because in the end people need to put self- health and care first. However, despite the view I have over this topic, if I had one question for people to seriously consider before they abort, I would ask: “What does it mean to be human?’’ Thinking about this question really simplifies the position many women are put in, and I think regardless whether someone is against aborting or not, this conversation involves a deep and surreal thinking process that can be a burden to many. I would challenge people to try to see from a different perspective on this, and even if it is not something one agrees with, to at least understand why someone would make this decision for them self.
Aghaz, Faranak, et al. “The Contingent Prenatal Screening Test for Down’s Syndrome and Neural TubeDefects in West of Iran.” Journal of Reproduction and Infertility, vol. 20, no. 4, 2019, p. 245+. Gale Academic Onefile, https://link-gale-com.lcc.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/A604795679/AONE?u=lom_lansingcc&sid=AONE&xid=55138899. Accessed 25 Nov. 2019.
Cha, Ariana Eunjung. “Babies with Down Syndrome Are Put on Center Stage in the U.S. Abortion Fight.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 30 Mar. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/03/05/down-syndrome-babies-are-taking-center-stage-in-the-u-s-abortion-fight/.
Kaposy, Chris. “The Ethical Case for Having a Baby With Down Syndrome.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Apr. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/opinion/down-syndrome-abortion.html.
Keneally, Meghan, and Alexandra Svokos. “State Abortion Bans in 2019: Many Signed, None in Effect.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 29 May 2019, abcnews.go.com/US/state-abortion-bans-2019-signed-effect/story?id=63172532.
McCammon, Sarah. “Down Syndrome Families Divided Over Abortion Ban.” NPR, NPR, 13 Dec. 2017, www.npr.org/2017/12/13/570173685/down-syndrome-families-divided-over-abortion-ban.
Skotko, Brian. “Mothers of children with Down syndrome reflect on their postnatal support.” Pediatrics, Jan. 2005, p. 64+. Gale Academic Onefile, https://link-gale-com.lcc.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/A127622054/AONE?u=lom_lansingcc&sid=AONE&xid=c12ada05. Accessed 25 Nov. 2019.