Jul 082013 51 Responses

An Open Letter to the USA Today Editorial Board

My daughter’s life is not a life of suffering. She is not a burden to me or her family. Her life is not a disappointment.

Last week, you presented your opinion in the editorial 20 Week Abortion Ban Too Soon: Our View. In it, you discussed that many couples are informed about a diagnosis of Down syndrome at 16–18 weeks which would force them to make “heartrending decisions against a ticking clock.” It presented abortion as a logical choice for many expectant parents.

While the decision to abort a child with Down syndrome might be heartrending, let’s say what else it is:

Aborting a child with DS is selfish. It is the belief that the child will be a burden which will disrupt our lives. It puts our hopes, dreams and expectations above the needs of a child. It is the epitome of putting self above all others. Parenting is about giving ourselves for the well-being of our children. We give our time, energy, and resources so they might flourish. Aborting a child with DS is never good for the child. It is never an act of mercy. It is never in the child’s best interest. It is always an action of selfishness because of what might have to be endured.

Aborting a child with DS is ignorant. It is a sign of ignorance regarding what it is like to raise a child with DS. While raising a special needs child clearly has its challenges, it is not an extreme burden. Show me a family with a child with DS who wishes the child was not born. Show me a family with a child of DS who would say that child is a detriment to family. If you think a child with DS hurts a family, read Here or Here or Here.

Aborting a child with DS is shameful. I know the decision is not taken lightly by most people. I understand that it can be “heartrending,” but it is also shameful. To destroy a human life because of a diagnosis like DS is tragic. For a doctor, it goes against the Hippocratic oath—it does harm. For a parent, it violates the basic premise of parenthood—protect the well-being of our child. As a human, it violates our conscience—the innocent shouldn’t suffer. We need to be compassionate to those who make bad decisions, but we also need to call their actions what they are. Aborting a child with DS is shameful.

Aborting a child with DS is bad for society. Couples often think what a child will demand from them, but what they forget is what a special needs child will do for them and for society. If we found a cure for Down syndrome I would celebrate it, but I would also worry about a world without children and adults with Down syndrome. They teach us so much. They reveal our brokenness. They call us to love. They remind us what is important. If we ended DS through a cure, that would be one thing, but we are on the brink of ending DS not because of a cure but because of abortion. This is frightening. It will hurt more than those with DS, it will hurt society. We need these children and adults. We extinguish them at our own peril.

To the Editorial Board of the USA Today, I ask you to rethink your opinion. Interview individuals with DS and see if you think their lives are important. Study families with members who have DS and see if their lives have been hindered. Consider the lessons which can only be learned from people with DS and imagine a society which doesn’t know those lessons.

My daughter is not a burden. Her life is not second-class. My family has not been hurt by her presence.

My life, my family, and my community are better because of her.



51 Responses to An Open Letter to the USA Today Editorial Board
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