Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Response to "Outlawing Abortion Won't Help Children With Down Syndrome"

There are never simple answers to complex problems.

About a month ago, North Dakota became the first state to outlaw abortion due to genetic abnormalities including Down Syndrome. Of course, this has been widely praised by pro-lifers and widely condemned by pro-choicers. On April 1st, an opinion article about it appeared in the New York Times. Written by a pro-choice mother of a child with DS, she expresses deep sympathy for the women who abort their children to spare them a life in a world which is "difficult...for people with disabilities."

I can sympathize with these women as well, but continuing to allow abortions is not the answer either. She rightly points out that society needs to treat the disabled better. They need to have better housing for the adults, better health care and early intervention for the children. We need to protect better those with intellectual disabilities from abuse, sexual, physical, emotional, and financial. Caring for "the least of these" (Matthew 25:40 and 45) should take priority over setting money aside for lawyers to CYOA.

Keep your priorities straight, people!
North Dakota can't stop there. There is the obvious reality that this law is completely unenforceable. It's great to have it on record that disabled people are human beings, that their lives are valuable and they are loved and respected. But you need to go beyond that. So, women can't abort them unborn, we need to treat the ones that are born better. We need to educate pregnant women about the realities of DS instead of letting the myths reign. We need to let them know they are supported. This law needs to be a first step toward treating the disabled like the valuable members of the human family that they are.

Otherwise, you are just putting a Band-Aid on a great injustice. You're just giving lip service to the rights of the disabled without actually doing anything to help them.

North Dakota has made a good first step. They are demonstrating that their heart is in the right place. They need to go all the way if they hope to reverse the trend. Keeping it legal will only support the status quo, but making it illegal isn't enough to change the status quo.

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