Willing to take the risk

By Leila Marie Lawler (articles ) | Jan 09, 2007

For an object lesson in how standard operating procedure in reproductive matters has simply stepped out of the framework of argument and passion of the political perspective on pro-life issues, it’s hard to beat today’s article in the New York Times on testing (and by testing we mean searching and destroying) for Down’s Syndrome.

Here’s a particularly chilling excerpt:

"For example, Dr. Goldberg said, a 29-year-old woman and her partner might now choose amniocentesis instead of a blood test. In the past, the more invasive procedure was seldom recommended for younger women because it could sometimes result in miscarriage. Now the risk is considered to be quite low, and in any event, Dr. Goldberg said, for some couples "losing a normal pregnancy secondary to the procedure is not as problematic as the birth of a Down syndrome child, so they're willing to take that risk.""

Those who take the optimistic view of President Bush’s efforts on behalf of the unborn, remain sanguine about the Republican party, and who, in general, think that the forces of life are going to triumph, should take note of the tone of this article, which simply assumes that people will abort their Down’s Syndrome babies. Will, in fact, consider the risk of losing the baby inadvertently through miscarriage worth the risk of the test to avoid possibly having what is understood to be a defective child.

It would be tempting to dismiss this icy pragmatism as so much New York Times-ism – the Manhattan elite talking to themselves through the medium of the pseudo-journalistic rag.

However, any woman who has borne children in the past decade or more will attest to the monolithic utilitarian gauntlet she must run in order to emerge with baby intact. And if she keeps her fertility that too will be a heroic achievement. This clinical juggernaut must be grappled with, and there are no opposing viewpoints: all is sacrificed to the amoral objective of prenatal quality control.

Too bad those who face the odd loss of “a normal pregnancy” with facile equanimity probably won’t ever see this article, which also appeared in the New York Times, amazingly enough; with far more resonance with moral reality.

Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 7 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2007 1:37 PM ET USA

    In China they test for other "defects" like being female. It will take a while to "educate" Americans before we can become so "enlightened."

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2007 12:44 PM ET USA

    Leila, with 5 young children we can attest to the monolithi utitarian gauntlet a woman must run through. We have had to refuse the test for a normal child but thankfully the doctors said they did not agree with it either but it was policy to ask. However, after the third child the pressure for sterilization is really put on. The medical establishment feel your family size is their responisibility and not that of husband and wife.

  • Posted by: Ignacio177 - Jan. 10, 2007 10:17 AM ET USA

    "a 29-year-old woman and her partner..." Does anyone have a husband or wife anymore?

  • Posted by: Sir William - Jan. 10, 2007 10:06 AM ET USA

    *couples "losing a normal pregnancy secondary to the procedure is not as problematic as the birth of a Down syndrome child, so they're willing to take that risk.""* Sir Will's Wife:In Aug, I lost a 'normal pregnancy' - she just died and I miscarried. The depression was deep & I'm still grieving. She would have been born in just a few weeks and there is a severe ache where she should be. What a horrendous, demonic, patronizing piece of drivel to in effect say its better to lose than to have

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2007 9:39 AM ET USA

    From the second article, about which it is a bit difficult to be sympathetic: "There are two ways to “purge the products of conception” (as doctors refer to ridding what remains in you)...." I refer to doctors and others who use the term "products of conception" as "products of digestion."

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2007 9:24 AM ET USA

    I could not have stated it better! God forbid that we should ever find a gene for ADHD. Let us bow our heads and ask for God's blessing...

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2007 2:20 AM ET USA

    A Down’s Syndrome or any handicapped child is a great gift from God. Such a child is a joy conveying the humility and love of Jesus, and is a happy burden given to the parents to exercise love for love’s sake. A well-loved and well-taken care of handicapped child can be a ticket for the parents to Heaven. This is one of those paradoxical joys the world rejects because the world does not know how to love.