Tuesday, September 2, 2008

End Discrimination Against People with Down Syndrome - Now

I really don’t care what new Republican Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s political views are.

But here’s what I do care very much about: She refused to discriminate against her unborn child when the Down Syndrome diagnosis came in.

As a society, we prattle on and on about equality, diversity, and "access.” The notion of inclusiveness-everything rules the day. Well, almost everything - as long as we’re not talking about people with an extra chromosome.

The evidence is irrefutable that those with Down Syndrome have been deliberately left out. When Down Syndrome is thrown into the equation, suddenly our high-mindedness sags. Inexcusably, I think.

For years advocates fought to have people with Down Syndrome brought from the shadows of institutionalization to their rightful place in our communities and lives.

Lately, though, there are fewer and fewer of them around.

Why? Because the vast majority of in-utero Down Syndrome diagnoses result in abortion. The numbers don’t lie: When it comes to people with Down Syndrome, they’re considered defective.

The message is clear - we’d rather just not have them around.

Good for Palin for standing up to the pressure from the medical community, which almost always recommends termination of the pregnancy.

Good for Palin for making the statement that needs to be made much more often:

Genetic discrimination against people with Down Syndrome must stop.

Now. No excuses.


Sandy Lovell said...

I agree! We have a beautiful baby girl that was born last November. We were told she might have DS, but we refused any invasive testing. It just wasn't worth the slight risk. As my doctor so wonderfully asked "Would the results make a difference on how you reacted?" Of course we said "NO", she asked then why would you want to do a test? Perfectly sane questions and we never considered it again. We are so blessed with the PERFECT baby. We couldn't have asked for a better baby. We will learn about DS together and hopefully bring awareness, acceptance and education to this world. These individuals are just that - individual. Accept people for who they are and stop discrimination and practice acceptance.

Dr. Mark Mostert said...

Sandy, thanks so much for stopping by. You picked up the subtext of the entry - that, unfortunately, we worship individuality, but then deny people with DS their right to be individuals. It sounds like you had a very supportive medical team. Unfortunately, I think, in terms of medical advice about DS, the medical input you received is not shared in most places. The evidence points to many medicos really putting pressure on parents to terminate DS pregnancies. I'd be willing to bet that in most cases where there is heavy arm-twisting to terminate DS pregnancies, photos and videos like you have of Allie, your daughter, on your website, are never presented as a counterbalance. Too bad, Allie's beautifu!!

Trisomy 13 Life with Natalia ~ Transformed by Love said...

I'm thrilled with Sarah Palin as John McCain's VP.
She talks the talk and walks the walk. They have my vote!
Mom to a beautiful trisomy 13/Patau Syndrome child, 8yrs.

Dr. Mark Mostert said...

It's very encouraging to connect with people who are living positively with disability. We need to get the message out much more often to counteract the very powerful bias against people with DS and most other disability conditions..

Terri said...

I agree with you. I'm not basing my vote on this alone, but I am glad to see a mom who has chosen to value her child with Down syndrome in the public eye. This is an opportunity for growth of our culture's understanding, I hope.

william Peace said...

I just wrote about Palin's speech on my blog badcripple. Yes, Palin's son Trig will be in the public eye and that is a good thing in terms of visibility. I am also sure Palin will have a common bond with other parents who have a son or daughter with Down Syndrome. But I sincerely doubt this will translate into more progressive policies from McCain or the Republican Party. One's vote should be based on a careful analysis of the issues not the images projected by political strategists.

Dr. Mark Mostert said...

I agree, William, that there is much that remains to be seen. However, there's no way around the fact that Palin has been the only politician, on either side of the aisle, that has even so much as mentioned people with disabilities.

Everyone else has ignored this very large minority group, as I'm sure you'll know from reading around the web. Let's hope (and encourage Palin) that if she wins office, that she keeps her promise.

Anonymous said...

I hope someone can help me. I called a local after school program to see if they had any openings for a 10 year old boy. They said, "Yes, we have two spots." I faxed over paperwork 15 minutes later and when they found out he had Down Syndrome, they said they were full. I reported them to the ADA. Is there anything else I can do?

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