Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

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.

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  • Posted by: SentimentalGent - Jul. 05, 2010 3:10 PM ET USA

    I still work for a newspaper, and while it could be that the reporter added the "scandal" phrase, it could have also been done by an editor(s). I've had things like that happen to some of my stories just to add some controversy. There are editors out there who consider the readership to be idiots who would only be interested because there is something controversial in the story, even if there is no direct relationship.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Jun. 30, 2010 6:52 PM ET USA

    I wouldn't blame the reporter. Having spent my entire working life in newsrooms, I think there's at least a 50-50 chance that she knew her editors would see the story as inside baseball (or, worse, inside Vatican) and that it would get spiked---or maybe run at 11PM, between cycles. The only way she had a chance of its seeing print would be if she tied it gratuitously to the Scandal. At least that's a possibility. So it's an institutional problem with the AP. (On which you do blame it, Di.)

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Jun. 30, 2010 6:34 PM ET USA

    I wouldn't read too much into this particular line. The reporter was probably thinking the pope must be very tired from dealing with all the stuff that's been in the papers (and also in the AP, because that's all they see there too) and in need of a vacation.