The general perspective about Down syndrome is relatively better today than it was 20 or more years ago. Unfortunately, despite the awareness generated over the past several years by organized groups, blogs, families, and self-advocates with Down syndrome, there is still a lot of work to do. Headlines like Down's syndrome test breakthrough 'on the horizon', New screening halves the number of children born with Down syndrome, and Non-invasive screening in early pregnancy reduces Down's births by 50 percent make it alarmingly apparent that society in general has not really changed their minds about Down syndrome.
I reshared a friend's status on my facebook wall yesterday (referring to the article Down's syndrome test breakthrough 'on the horizon'):
"He said...[this] will encourage more couples to take the test and therefore slowly eradicate the disease." The "disease" being Down syndrome. MY KID. Could they be any more obvious? I'm all for early detection if it means bringing babies into this world more safely; we knew ahead and I'm glad for that. But suggesting this as a means of eradicating my child and people like him is just sickening.
It's so sad.
If tested positive, why not encourage more proactive prenatal care and perhaps a form of targeted nutritional intervention (TNI) as the baby develops in utero instead of suggesting or encouraging termination? Is there scientific research about prenatal care for preventing or lessening the chances for heart defects and other common issues in newborns with DS, thus giving them a healthier start in life?
There is no cure for Down syndrome. But many individuals with Down syndrome are leading happy and productive lives. The general consensus among families and friends of people with Down syndrome is that people with DS bring out the best in us and give our lives more meaning. I agree 100%.
What's next? There is no cure for autism, cerebral palsy, and other conditions. If a non-invasive blood test to detect these in utero is developed, would it also be viewed as a means for eradicating fetuses diagnosed with such conditions?