Friday, 19 September 2008

The Cost of Eliminating Down's Syndrome

Aborting children with Down's Syndrome will not raise an eyebrow in some crowds.  Hell, some might condemn anyone who would choose to bring these little monsters into the world.  But the cost of perfecting humanity may cost a few "normal" children.  Eugenics is a messy affair and always has been.   According to The Telegraph:

baby-scan Two healthy babies are miscarried for every three Down's Syndrome babies that are detected and prevented from being born, research has suggested.

The losses are down to the invasive methods used to test for the condition, which affects approximately one in every 1,000 babies conceived, the researchers claim.

They also cast doubt on the advice and risk assessment given to the 6,000 women each year who are offered screening and subsequent testing to assess the health of their unborn baby.

If an expectant mother is deemed to be at risk of carrying a Down's baby following a blood test, she will then go on to undergo an amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS) test, which involves inserting a fine needle through the abdomen to either withdraw amniotic fluid or take a tissue sample.

The NHS cites a miscarriage rate of between one and two per cent following the tests, but the researchers, from the charity Down's Syndrome Education International, point out that only the number of Down's babies terminated, miscarried or born are recorded, not the number of healthy babies lost.

Creating liberal utopias will always cost innocent lives.  It's hard work and occasionally someone will get in the way.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Disability on Display

If nothing else, Sara Palin's nomination as Republican VP candidate has brought matters of disabled children to the forefront in this political season. Palin and her husband have welcomed a child with Down's Syndrome into their family.

Unfortunately not all are willing to accept children as they are rather than as they might be. Wesley Smith at SHS blog has a disturbing post about a mother who murdered her disabled child.

Joanne Hill, 32, planned the murder after her husband refused to allow their daughter, Naomi, to be adopted, it was alleged.

A jury heard how Mrs Hill struggled to cope caring for the youngster, who suffered with cerebral palsy. She wore callipers to help her walk and had poor hearing.

Opening the case for the prosecution Michael Chambers QC told Chester Crown Court that Mrs Hill was "ashamed and embarrassed" of her daughter's condition and murdered her in a "determined and planned act".

"Joanne Hill could not come to terms with the fact that her daughter Naomi was disabled," he said.

"Instead of seeking help from the social services, she quite deliberately and consciously acted to kill Naomi."

Mrs Hill allegedly planned the murder for the afternoon of November 26 last year knowing her husband Simon would not be home until 5.30pm.

After picking up Naomi from the childminder she drove them to the family home in Deeside, Flintshire, north Wales, poured herself a glass of wine then ran a bath.

Mr Chambers said: "When the bath was full she told Naomi she was having a bath, but Naomi didn't want one. The defendant carried her upstairs and undressed her.

"The defendant put her in the bath and drowned her by holding her head under the water for a long time until she was dead."

Smith writes:

Princeton University's Peter Singer and some other bioethicists argue that killing unwanted babies is perfectly fine since babies aren't persons. Babies born with disabilities and terminal illnesses are already being subjected to infanticide in the Netherlands--acts of murder under Dutch law that go unpunished, and which have been supported by prestigious medical and bioethics journals such as in an article published in the prestigious Hastings Center Report. Here in America, 90% of fetuses testing with genetic anomalies such as Down or dwarfism are not allowed to be born--a eugenics action sometimes encouraged by doctors and genetic counselors. In Canada, Robert Latimer murders his daughter Tracy because she had cerebral palsy and is embraced by many there as a loving and compassionate father. Meanwhile, some people savage the Palins because they are affronted by Trig's presence in the world and a Canadian medical official worries that it could mean more parents deciding not to abort their disabled babies.

We as physicians have wonderful opportunity to affirm life from conception until natural death. Our patients respect us and we can influence the debate. Our actions and words are noted. Set the example and frame the debate in a life affirming way.

Welcome to a New Member

Catholic Physicians Blog is pleased to welcome a new member. Richard Kim blogs at Great to have you onboard!