Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On prenatal testing and abortion

There is a lot of stuff floating around these days regarding prenatal testing and, as always happens, almost in the same sentence, about abortion. Especially abortion and Down Syndrome.

Just read all of these Time Health articles: this onethis one and this one. It's on CBS. There's been something on the Huffington Post. It's even sort of a campaign issue in the US presidential elections.

Of course there are the pro-life people, who almost always bring up and force in religion, and then there are the pro-choice people, who talk about the woman's right to choose what to do with her own body.

Now, I have never covered up the fact that I am strongly pro choice. As long as the choice is the woman's/ the couple's, not the surrounding community's, and definitely not the treating doctor's.

Legalizing abortion and maintaining the already gained advances is one of my pet causes. Pro-lifers tend to give me the serious creeps and regardless of what awesome literature they have or don't have standing on their bookshelves (usually my major point of final judgement of any person) they will always primarily be judged by their patronizing view regarding what could very well at some point be my body. A body that not even the Viking has any say over.

"But? What? Back up a minute here lady," you might be saying to yourself right at this very minute, "You just knowingly had a kid with Down Syndrome, didn't you?"

Yes I did. I knew that my baby had Down Syndrome already when I was 13 weeks pregnant with her, and that she had some sort of chromosomal glitch (either an extra one or one missing, was our initial information) going on when I was 12 weeks pregnant with her.

I had a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) test done. I wanted to know exactly what the glitch was so that I could make an informed decision on whether to continue my pregnancy, and also in order to prepare for the future. Had the results said Trisomy 13 or 18, I would have had an abortion. It would have been my right to not bring someone into the world whose short life would have been filled with only pain and suffering (before those become staples of life that is - for my own mother this apparently happened around the time I hit puberty). Had I been in this same situation, -13 weeks pregnant with a child with Down Syndrome - when I had just started university and was together with 'the one before the right one', I would have had an abortion. Had I been in this situation in a parallel universe where I had no chance of education, no resources, an absentee husband, and seven other children to take care of, I hope I would have been smart enough to have an abortion. Had I been one of those people appalled by the fact that my child was going to have a disability and not be in every way superior (if that was ever even possible, right?) to everyone else - an heir to my queen of the world, I hope I would have had an abortion. had I been pregnant with a typical child, but by accident and at the wrong place in my life, I would have had an abortion. It would have been my right. In a lot of the world.  

But I was me. In 2011. Pregnant with my first child. Long time married to my best friend and quite possibly the most wonderful man in the world (regardless of the fact that he's still unable to pronounce 'vegetable' and sucks at keeping secrets from me, even about presents he's bought for me). Educated and informed. Pretty well off. And most importantly, able to devote almost every single second of my life, every day now and in the future, to bringing up my child into happy and healthy adulthood and making sure all is well with her.

It didn't matter that she had Down Syndrome. She wasn't going to suffer. Her heart and other organs checked out. There was essentially nothing else different about her compared to any other baby than her karyotype showing one extra 21st chromosome.

And there still isn't - nearly 5 months after she was born. Partly, because, well, there just isn't (it's only one chromosome [and identical to the other two 21st] out of a total of 47, ya'll), and partly because we've aggressively worked with her in developing her muscle tone, reflexes, nervous system, and abilities since she was three weeks old, something we'll keep doing for as long as she needs it.

We have high hopes for her and we'll do our best to make her kind, smart, understanding, witty, responsible, and fun. She'll probably also be stubborn, rebellious, smart mouthed, and obnoxious, but that's all on us.

I, as well as the recent research, strongly believe that nurture, and not so much nature, will determine how she'll be. Let's hope we measure up.

So you see, it all comes down to specific situations. We even have a plan for her should both of us, her parents, die in a blazing inferno/ horrifying car crash/ a freak skiing accident/ Agatha Christie novel, which will never ever leave her drifting, whatever the circumstances (yes, we're aggressively amassing extraordinary people and a large fortune). It seems to me that instead of making blanket statements and decisions about the legality and ethic qualities of prenatal testing and abortion, let's make it so that everyone is able to make the best choice for them while they have the best and newest information regarding their situation, and no one there who considers bringing up a child with Down Syndrome 'an insurmountable task' or a condition 'not viable with life' as some completely misinformed assholes medical practitioners out there seem to be thinking.

The biggest minus of motherhood so far has been the jello they force on you at the hospital.

1 comment:

  1. I am sorry I am following your blog after almost a year and after I read that you had a baby I am happy and I felt like I had to talk with some like minded people. I am an Indian, born in a conservative protestant christian family(funny? I get that a lot). I like christ as a human being but I hate christianity. I agree with you. It's deplorable to say abortion is bad just because it says so in the book (as they claim). I think the parents should have their say but the buck stops at the Mom, Its upto her. Getting an abortion just because they don't want it citing monetary or social reasons is a crime. In my view aborting a child who might not have a good life or will be too ill to survive or suffers a lot is ok. You have risen above everything else and till date you were just a funny woman with a ribtickling weird sense of humour but from now on you will be one of those heroes whom I will look upto. I was having a bad time and I lost hope in life and for almost a year I didn't follow your blog but today I found solace and hope after reading your posts. respect.


The Viking came home from a business trip packing a pink castle, a whole heap of princess and prince dollies and a carriage pulled by a unicorn. Life's good until someone swallows a crown or a glass slipper. I won't ever answer your comment, but I'll sure appreciate it while I'm sifting through shit looking for that crown. Yah.