Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"Noah's Dad" and What To Do About Down Syndrome

Trolling around Facebook -- as I'm apt to do when the crazy gets too crazy around here, I came across a woman's advice to abort prenatal children diagnosed with Down Syndrome. She was upset by this post by Rick Smith, a popular blogger and father of a son with Down Syndrome. Here's her letter:

"Just visited your site where you tell doctors how to deliver a Down diagnosis.

How dare you! You are obviously a right-wing neocon born-again determined to force your religion down the throats of others,

I have 2 normal children but, if one of them would be born with birth defects, I would have had an abortion and felt no guilt at all. To bring a child like that into the world is ridiculous and cruel. Some of them may be capable of leading a life and being self-supporting but most will not.

The reality is that such children will be a burden on taxpayers who have to foot the bill for irresponsible parents who refuse to do the right thing and abort the fetus ASAP.

I'll bet you are a conservative who hates big government and paying taxes yet have no qualms about taxpayers footing the bills for your child. Shame on you.

Obviously, I am pro-choice. Nobody has the right to force a woman to use her body as an incubator where she unwillingly donates her bodily organs for 9 months against her will and there is no reason to make her feel guilty about terminating a pregnancy.

I have never had an abortion but have gone to clinics with others who wanted to terminate a pregnancy. None of those women has ever regretted their decision and they have gone on to marry and have children when they were ready to do so.

Your attitude and attempt to influence a woman to give birth to a child who will be a burden on her and taxpayers for it's entire life is disgusting.

Why don't you focus on aid for single moms and feeding the children who are going hungry in this actual country instead of promoting ideas and theology that place a huge tax burden on the entire country. Does it not make more sense to pay for the needs of the children already here than to drag the country even into more debt by having children who will be a never-ending burden to taxpayers.

I am sorry about Noah. I'm glad you are happy to have him. However, in reality, he will probably never be self-sufficient and, after you and your wife are gone, he will be a burden to his siblings or to the taxpayers (or both) during his entire lifetime."

Wow, classy, right? To send that to the parent of a child with Down Syndrome? 

So my first thought was to dismiss all of her arguments based solely on their inclusion in such a poorly written letter. But I recognize not everyone believes ethics and grammar to be so closely linked. (No? Just me?) 

So here we go.

1. On calling people "tax burdens": 

This woman seems very pre-occupied with the idea of sweet Noah being a "tax burden," which I deduce to mean from her derogatory letter as someone whose life involves tax-payer-funded support. I wonder if she realizes that if she has gone to public school, even participated in classes for the gifted and talented, driven on public roads, visited public libraries or parks, or enjoys the safety of calling 9-1-1 in case of an emergency, then she also is a "tax burden." Shall we have aborted her?

2. On her willingness to abort one of her own children, if they had birth defects: 

It's too bad she doesn't live in Canada, where if she missed a birth defect diagnosis in utero, she could probably still chuck the newborn out a hospital window, if it weren't pretty enough. Actually, that's not fair. Her actual criteria for valuing a person's life is that they are "capable of leading a life" and "being self-supporting." Is there a timeline for being self-supporting? Does this need to happen, like, from birth? Or say, by the time they graduate college? (If so there are some delayed adolescents who should probably sign up for the receiving end of a firing line. I'd be first up.) What if someone loses both arms in a machine at their job, and can no longer be self-supporting? Shall we replace whatever government office processes disability claims with these sweet ladies?

The leading ladies in "Arsenic and Old Lace" invite lonely old men over for tea. They think the men must be miserable from their unfortunate circumstances of being both old and presumably lonely, so the aunts poison their guests' tea and bury the bodies in the basement.
3. On her "obvious" position as "pro-choice": 

I'm not sure her position is as obvious as she thinks. It seems she's as adamant to convince moms of special needs babies to drop-kick them to the curb (or just kill them in utero, whatever) as militant anti-abortion advocates are to tie up poor pregnant women till birth and then abandon them with no income, no healthcare, and a newborn. So she's right to point out there's a need to focus on aid for single moms (maybe married moms and single dads too?) and feeding hungry children, but it's a fallacy to believe being pro-life and anti-poverty are mutually exclusive. I'm sorry shitty right-wing politicians have made it appear otherwise. There are a great many of us who want both quality of life for moms and life for children in utero, and we believe both are possible.

4. On people with Down Syndrome being a burden to their families: 

Well, geez, who isn't a burden to their families? Shall we abort the little girl who might become the crazy aunt? Or the little boy who will become an elderly man? Or perhaps we could just kill the kid who talks too much, because they'll drive everyone crazy on family road trips. I wonder if she realizes (probably not) that she's the overly-opinionated mean lady in her family, who thinks she knows best about everything, even to the point of who should live and die, and maybe -- maybe not, but maybe -- her family considers her a burden. I hope they love her anyway and invite her to Christmas.

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