The problem with pre-natal testing is that many people (maybe most) don’t use it to prepare for the birth of a child with disabilities, they use it to kill the child before he or she can be born. This is particularly well documented with children diagnosed in utero with Downs Syndrome; around 90% of children with this diagnosis will be aborted, often under heavy pressure from doctors overplaying the severity of the condition. (Unlike some diagnoses that are clear cut, Downs is a range. Someone with mild Downs can function fairly normally, while those with more severe cases will need life-long help. I would also note that many tests give false positives; I have heard several stories of dire warnings and harrassment to abort from doctors, only to have the child test perfectly normal after birth.) I’d like to think the March of Dimes and such are trying to help, but promoting pre-natal testing isn’t the way to help, unless by “help” you simply mean decreasing the number of Downs Syndrome children who make it to birth, not the number conceived.
So, a new internet campaign is trying to bring attention to this appalling statistic. Maybe, if more people understood Downs, fewer would cave into the pressure from the “experts” telling them that their baby would be better off dead.
And, yet again, we have to ask ourselves how many of these children would be allowed to live if our culture didn’t push the idea of one or two “perfect” children and absolutely no more. If we had space in our hearts for three or four children (or more), would we be more accepting of the less-than-perfect, too?