WOULD YOU SCREEN FOR DOWN SYNDROME: We now have the technology in advanced medical centres to screen for a variety of genetic disorders in utero. But why do we screen? So that if there is a defect we can abort? In India, there are about 650,000 induced abortions every year in the centres approved to carry them out (Family Welfare Statistics in India, 2009), and the majority of them (we assume) are for the same genetic defect - the absence of a Y chromosome. So when I read this article about a 32 year old mother-to-be who refused screening for chromosomal anomalies, I thought it was a refreshing change and a different way of looking at this whole issue. Especially when I learnt that her first child was born with Down syndrome which magnifies the odds of a chromosomal abnormality in this pregnancy (from 1 in 1000 to 1 in 100). I quote the last 2 paragraphs of the article - Many people within our culture, and particularly those within the medical establishment, think that Down syndrome is a burden. Even pro-life advocates talk about those who “suffer” from Down syndrome. With language of suffering and lists of problems, it is no wonder that women abort when faced with the news that their child has an extra 21st chromosome. And yet this automatic assumption that Down syndrome brings with it only tragedy belies the studies that demonstrate the positive impact children with Down syndrome have within their families, the ever-increasing potential for learning and participation in community life, and the testimonies of adults with Down syndrome that theirs is a life worth living.
Even as maternal age increases, the incidence of children born with Down syndrome is decreasing. Studies show that 85 percent to 90 percent of women with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies. We declined prenatal testing not because we assume this baby in my womb has the typical 46 chromosomes. We declined prenatal testing because we would welcome another child with Down syndrome.
Would I welcome (and not just accept) a child with Down Syndrome..... (HT: Z)
TEMPLE GRANDIN AND AUTISM: This post reviews a film released this year narrating the story of Dr. Temple Grandin, a pioneer in 2 fields - animal husbandry and autism. Diagnosed to have autism and brain damage at the age of 2, she was blessed with good teachers in a special school as well as at home. She began to speak at the age of 4 and progressed through school and college braving the taunts and barbs of 'normal' people who could not understand her special needs and gifts. Overcoming odds that were stacked against her, she completed her doctorate and immersed herself in ground-breaking research into the beef-industry, which ended with the industry changing many of their practices towards more humane care for animals. Along the way, she was invited to a conference on autism and when she spoke, everyone began to listen, for here was someone who could actually relate first-hand what it was like to have autism. Her inputs have been instrumental in many changes in the understanding and treatment of autism and she is now considered a 'philosophical leader of both the animal welfare as well as the autism advocacy movements.' And in the future, if autism can also be diagnosed prenatally, mothers will be advised to abort....
THE BASIC QUESTION OF ABORTION: I think that the basic question of the debate on abortion comes down to what is considered 'life'. For most pro-choice advocates, 'life' does not begin from the time of fertilisation, but from varying points along the way in the next nine months. This article tells the story of one pro-choice advocate, who believes that the fetus is not human until detached from the mother. So, after delivery, the baby can be killed as long as he or she remains attached to the umbilical cord either 5 minutes or 1 hour later. That sounds rather irrational to me......
TWITTER HACK: All you tweeters out there, beware. A malignant virus has surfaced on Twitter.com that takes you to third-party websites without your consent. Read about it here.
A LIGHT-HEARTED LOOK AT PREDESTINATION: What is a major source of debate and discussion on some of the blogs I read is dealt with in a lighter vein by Bill Watterson. Did you know that the title character of the comic was named after who else but John Calvin, the founder of Calvinism which bases its whole doctrine on predestination!! In the context of this cartoon, that's ironical, eh!!(HT: Pure Church)