Thursday, 27 November 2008

More babies being born with Down's syndrome

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/children_shealth/3506668/More-babies-being-born-with-Downs-syndrome.html

This curious phenomenon suggests the following of British society:-

1. Increasing numbers of couples view the having children as similar to having pets. (We expect nothing of our pets except their ability to be obedient, grateful, forever dependent and never leave us. Pets, you see, have no use except to gratify the ego of the pet-owner and to stave off feelings of loneliness and uselessness that we all might have from time to time.)

2. These parents expect very little from their children, because they appear to have the luxury of being able to treat their children as pets.

3. The waste and purposelessness of such an unrewarding venture - that of bringing up a child who will never achieve full independence and who will always be a source of worry, particularly if they do not predecease their parents - is not being questioned enough by parents, because of the cushion of a welfare state.

4. More mothers are having children later and later.

5. The greater willingness of parents now prepared to bring up children with Down's Syndrome is indicative of the unwisdom of indiscriminate compassion that now pervades British society. This may be due to the fact that we now live in a society that is morbidly over-feminised.

6. A society that unquestioningly encourages the unproductive at the expense of the productive in the name of compassion will find itself burdened with the unproductive and unable to compete with societies unburdened by such policies.

7. Insanity is but fundamental error compounded by persistent irrationality.

8. Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.

"It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre.”

25 comments:

Jeffrey Marshall said...

Pro-choice taboo

It doesn't make you a eugenicist to speak up for the right to abort a foetus that may have Down's

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/26/comment-abortion-pro-choice-women

This week it was shown that there were more children born in the United Kingdom last year with Down's syndrome than there were before the introduction of universal testing, 20 years ago.

One of the reasons is more obvious than the other - fertility among women in their 30s outstripped that of those in their 20s for the first time in the UK during 2005. Mothers are getting older and that trend is continuing; with it the incidence of Down's syndrome increases.

The more surprising aspect, I find, is that 40% of women who have a Down's syndrome baby having been advised of that strong possibility during pregnancy didn't believe the test results.

My worry is this: that the discursive space around the issue is taken up with pro-lifers rejoicing in this selfless social direction.

Pro-choicers are silent on the matter. And yet 94% of people will abort when told that a foetus probably has the condition. This silence is turning these abortions into a dirty secret. This can't be allowed to happen - they are either defensible or they aren't.

The taboo is even more marked in the case of aborting for birth defects than it is with terminations generally. First off, you talk about "defects" and very soon the word "eugenics" is used, and images of Nazis spring up.

Second, there is an unavoidable inference that if you are in favour of aborting Down's syndrome foetuses, you must therefore think that people with Down's syndrome are worthless. Why would you take such an unkind position?

Well, first of all, it's nothing to do with eugenics. Nobody aborts a Down's syndrome foetus because they want to create a society of perfect people. I also think that you would struggle to make the case that parents do it for their own convenience.

They do it because they don't believe that life is so precious that it is worth it at any price. If you are pro-choice, you do not see the right to life as a trump card that obviates all other considerations. You ask questions about quality of life, and you bring to those questions your assessment of your own life.

Which brings us to point two: the argument for termination always falls silent in the face of people saying how happy Down's syndrome children are, how much joy they bring to their families and communities, how much greater are their opportunities these days - because people were prepared to have them and fight for them.

However, you don't have to dispute any of that to support a parent's decision in favour of termination. I am pro-abortion generally for women who get pregnant by accident and are not in a relationship - or at least not one that they want to stay in - and don't want to have a child on their own.

That doesn't mean I think children of single mothers are worthless, that I wish they didn't exist, that I don't believe they bring anything to society. I deride the idea of adoption as a humane and viable alternative to abortion, but that doesn't mean I wish adopted people dead. I wouldn't in a million years judge a foetus on what it's going to bring to society, nor what it will cost. I don't believe doctors do either.

But nor would I judge a parent who decided against having a baby with Down's syndrome. You might conceive children for your own pleasure, but once they are out, parents are just there to marshal children to their own life, hoping that it's one of more pleasure than pain.

If you think that you can do this under any conditions, that's a point of view; but if you think you can't, that is not a selfish attitude, and nor is it shaming, nor reckless, nor spineless. It's a mature decision, based on an even-eyed view of the world and life in it, and one that any pro-choicer should be proud to defend.

Nan P. said...

This post is very unsettling. Images of WWII concentration camps kept flashing before me as I was reading it.

Are you afraid of the “less than perfect”? If so, get your facts right. Meet the people with Downs Syndrome, meet their parents, meet their families. Your fears would vanish, and you might even become the richer for it.

And I am pro-choice by the way. But I am so glad my grandson was not “eliminated” just before he has DS – by the way, my daughter was 28 when he was born. Again, check your facts. Please do the world a favour and do not comment on things you obviously know nothing about until you have learnt something about them!

Nan P. said...

I note that the comment I left a few days ago is not showing. I know of other people who have also left comments regarding this post. These are not showing either.

Why don’t you show them?

What is the point of expressing opinions in such a public manner if you are not willing to view and let others view opinions that may be opposed to yours? Of course, you chose what appears on your blog. But what is the point of engaging into a debate if you will not allow dialogue? It seems very disingenuous.

What are you afraid of?

Could you have been very misguided...?

Andromeda said...

My response to "Nan P". I was not aware that there were comments that needed moderating until today when signed in. No censorship was intended!

I am really a little tired of Nazi accusations.

The fact is that I do not want to look after a mentally handicapped offspring even as I am aware that Down's Syndrome children are happy, affectionate and can lead almost normal lives.

What shall we do with our Down's Syndrome children who do not predecease us? Trust in the kindness of strangers? Have them shot and buried with us as the pharoahs used to do their concubines and slaves?

There are no doubt many horror stories that are not being told yet, of those who cannot properly look after themselves and will never be able to do so, vulnerable to exploitation, cruelty and neglect.

Sometimes, you have to be cruel to be kind.

Nick McGivney said...

Well done for allowing dissenting viewpoints, or at least some of them, to appear. It is your blog, of course, and you can choose what you say and what you report of others' comments, but it does not mean you are better informed after them, it seems. Your last comment is as vacuous and ill-informed as the post itself, and comments like '
Sometimes, you have to be cruel to be kind' smack of nothing but social engineering at its crudest. As we approach the grave we should kill our grown up offspring with Downs then? I fail to see the kindness. Only fear and cruelty.

Andromeda said...

My response to Nick McGivney:

Being "vacuuous and ill-informed" is your word for saying "I disagree profoundly with your views and find them offensive and unkind."

Why don't you just say that instead of saying I am stupid and ignorant?

Your objectivity is clearly in doubt because you have a Down's Syndrome boy and found what I have said offensive, as one would expect.

I am not questioning the right of your boy to live, merely wondering whether the phenomenon of having more Down's Syndrome babies is a good thing.

I make a point of publishing all dissenting comments.

Jeff Marshall said...

On a related subject, I notice one of the conjoined twins, ‘Hope’ Williams has died, whilst it appears that ‘Faith’ Williams does not have much longer to live, since she is simply too weak.

She is a “very sick little girl” according to Fox News.

What was the purpose of allowing these children to be born?

I believe it is less an expression of hope or faith than of sheer human arrogance – a refusal to bow to nature.

When children are conceived who have very little chance of ever leading an independent life, parents ought to face the possibility that it might be wiser and kinder not to proceed with the birth.

Parents who insist upon giving birth on the basis they regard all life as sacrosanct should reflect on whether others – besides themselves - will ultimately have to bear the cost of their decision.

If so, can their decision be justified? How?

Perhaps we should simply insist of such parents that they spend a suitable proportion of their income thereafter on insurance so that the permanently dependent, or disabled, people they have opted to bring into the world may be adequately cared for when they themselves have gone.

Andromeda said...

Thank you, Jeffrey Marshall, for mentioning the conjoined twins.

Many years ago, I saw a documentary about the separation of a pair of conjoined twins. I know I have already been accused of being a Nazi Fascist wotsit for the views I have expressed, but I was truly filled with anger, pity and horror about just such an operation.

My most abiding memory of this film was of the twins on a swing, laughing, happy, screaming with childish glee.

The parents, however, felt they had to be separated to lead "a normal life". The surgeons were clearly rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of yet another pioneering operation to put on their CVs.

The long and short of it was that after separation, the weaker twin died.

I still seethe about it to this day that these "normal" people didn't think the life of someone abnormal was worth living and chose to separate and thereby sacrifice one of them.

The devastation on the face of the surviving twin when she regained consciousness and saw that her twin had gone haunts me to this day.

The correct and moral decision, in my opinion, would have been not to operate and to have accepted their uniqueness, freaky though it was.

If they could not have survived without major surgery, it would still have been better to have allowed nature to take its course.

The link below may be of interest.

http://www.globalchange.com/siamese.htm

It deals with, amongst others, the following points:

The moral debate on separation of Siamese twins

Doctors have second thoughts on separation of Siamese twins

Medicine gone mad

Highly recommended for the very pertinent points it raises.

Nick McGivney said...

Andromeda, at no point did I say you were 'stupid and ignorant'. If I had felt that you were stupid, I would not bother to make it my business to comment. I like to engage, and I am not in the business of shoving my 'right' opinions down anyone's throat.

The post is still vacuous and ill-informed. however. When misrepresentation is spread about a large proportion of people who are not necessarily equipped with the same tools as you to hold a debate on your terms, then I will join the fray on their part. Of course I am biased - and with obvious reason - but you are biased yourself, no?

Because my child has a disability of one kind, his life will be no less than my other children's. My expectations will not be lessened because of his condition. They will be different. Because he is. And I won't be able to quantify that for you or anyone else who has issues with it, but that won't matter. Jacob has not lived his short life by my rules thus far, and I don't expect him to start any time soon. And I will always profoundly disagree about that with you, even if it stymies my own life. I like to think that I would have disagreed with you before I had Jacob too.
This is not an argument about pro-life/pro-choice. This is very simply a discussion that involves the total removal of any choice at the very outset from people who have a chromosomal difference. Shame on the tone of the article. In the UK your termination rates are already in excess of 90% for those who 'suffer' from Down syndrome. You want the other 10% too? Instead of trendies keeping babies as pets should we reserve some for laboratory work instead? Maybe 2%?
Here in Ireland the in utero termination rate is nil, and curiously the country is still managing to keep afloat. Does that make us stupider than you?

As for my objectivity being in doubt, I can categorically say that it is now more rounded. I used not to have an interest in Down Syndrome. Now I do. Not to say I am unemotionally involved, of course, but a hell of a lot better informed. That knowledge is what guides me.

And thank you for your open forum. I look forward at some point in the future to finding something to agree with you on.

Andromeda said...

Response to Nick McGivney:

Again I do not say one way or the other. There are those who would abort a foetus merely suspected of having Down's. There are others who prefer not to even know that it has a high-risk of having Down's. There are those who would carry it to full term knowing that it was certain to have Down's.

I am not prescribing and would not, even if I could, prescribe the abortion or subsequent elimination of such children after they are born.

It is annoying that this is always the first thing people say about me and go on to imagine me being in a Nazi death camp calling for the extermination of everyone everywhere.

ALL I WAS DOING was inviting the reader to

1) ponder the reasons why more Down's syndrome babies are being born now

2) ask themselves whether this says anything about us as a society

3) ask themselves whether there will be a unintended and unwelcome consequences in the future if the numbers of such children continue to increase

There MUST be something you will agree with me on if you read this blog long and hard enough!

;-)

Andromeda said...

From page 19 of THE WEEK, 6 December 2008:

"In 2006, 749 babies with the chromosomal abnormality was born in the UK, surpassing for the first time the 717 born in 1989, when screening became widely available. Initially, it was claimed that this was due to prents being more willing to keep Down's Syndrome children, but the National Down Syndrome Cytogenic Register says that the proportion of parents choosing to abort foetuses as a result of screening remained the same; the figures simply reflect the increase in the number of women giving birth later in life, who have a higher risk of having Down's babies."

I invite readers to ask themselves whether women giving birth late in life is a Good Thing.

Gary Cosby Jr. said...

I am simply amazed at your point of view which ranges from ill informed to insulting. It is completely disturbing that you advocate killing to avoid a perceived inconvenience. Where will that logic take you and where is the line that you will not cross?

I am a parent of a Down Syndrome child who is now 17 months old. My wife and I have a large family with eight children. Our family is amazingly enriched by our DS son. Far from DS people holding you back, or in your very insulting term, being pets, they are among the most loving people on the planet. In fact, most of us who are "normal" could learn quite a lot from them about loving one another and accepting people who are completely different from ourselves.

A society that does not take care of those who have special needs is the society that is heaping up its own funeral pyre. A society that lacks compassion is a society that has no soul. A person who lacks compassion is equally misguided. One of the greatest tenants of a civilized society is that it takes care of those who cannot take care of themselves.

I sincerely hope you have occasion to rethink your position.

Andromeda said...

My response to Gary Cosby, Jr:

I refer you to my response to Nick McGivney:

ALL I WAS DOING was inviting the reader to

1) ponder the reasons why more Down's syndrome babies are being born now

2) ask themselves whether this says anything about us as a society

3) ask themselves whether there will be a unintended and unwelcome consequences in the future if the numbers of such children continue to increase

Are you objecting to this because the implication of what I am saying offends you?

Then just say that and do not call me ill-informed. I have had contact with Down's Syndrome children through friends and family. One of them was even the favourite of a grandmother, simply because it never ceased being a child and did not lose its pet-like qualities. The grandmother was fond of children but did not like the adults her children and grandchildren became.

I have also met happy and affectionate adults with Down's Syndrome whom you may regard as less lovable than a Down's baby or child.

However happy and affectionate they are, Gary, they are vulnerable to exploitation.

So yes, I am saying that I would abort such a foetus, knowing myself as I do because I would not want to invest any time and energy into bringing up a child that will never be allowed to vote or reach the full human potential of others.

I am not interested in having a child that will always remain a child.

I am NOT proposing forced abortions or proposing to come round to take your child away and hope you are not suggesting that I have no right to say what I am saying, however much it offends and upsets you.

When people talk about "civilised society" they tend to forget about the Ancient Romans and Greeks.

Sister Wolf said...

What's your problem, Andromeda?

If you are unable or unwilling to answer that question (and it is asked in all sincerity) perhaps you can explain why you wanted the conjoined twins to be accepted as they were, and yet you feel the opposite about children with Down's Syndrome?

Is it the two-for-one thing, or what??

Andromeda said...

Sister Wolf asks me "What's your problem, Andromeda?"

I don't have oa problem, Sister Wolf, but it looks like YOU have a problem with me!

She goes on to ask "If you are unable or unwilling to answer that question (and it is asked in all sincerity) perhaps you can explain why you wanted the conjoined twins to be accepted as they were, and yet you feel the opposite about children with Down's Syndrome? Is it the two-for-one thing, or what??"

I am SO glad you asked the question, Sister Wolf.

The answer is simple: I have a problem with the mentally handicapped. Being physically handicapped does not stop you from reach your potential. Being mentally handicapped does.

Sister Wolf said...

Can you explain your definition of mentally handicapped? Again, this is a sincere question. I'm wondering if there is an IQ cut-off point, or if you include autistic savants, for example.

Andromeda said...

Mentally handicapped means precisely that - someone officially incapable of being allowed to vote, looking after his or her own affairs, lacking in legal capacity, that sort of thing.

I am not so gullible as to believe in experts to ever want an "IQ cut-off point".

Sister Wolf said...

The famously brilliant mathematician Paul Erdos was unable to figure out how to make toast.

He might have accurately been called mentally handicapped.

Andromeda said...

I have not heard of Paul Erdos but take Sister Wolf's word that he could not make toast to save his life.

Unlike her, I do not propose to classify people unable to make their own toast as mentally handicapped.

Sister Wolf knows EXACTLY what I mean when I say mentally handicapped, ie a person whose signature has no legal force and is unable to vote. In short, a minor or someone without legal capacity, ie someone who cannot look after his or her own affairs.

Not being able to make toast or boil an egg etc has no effect on your legal capacity.

alazarin said...

In relation to age and incidence of down syndrome I quote a statistic from the NADS website
http://www.nads.org/pages_new/facts.html

"It has been known for some time that the incidence of Down syndrome increases with advancing maternal age. However, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age."

Having children later in life may carry a greater risk of chromasomal mutations but childbearing over 35 not yet even near the norm (20% in 2006). It is true the number of women choosing to have a child later in life is on the increase but at the moment the level of increase does not bear any relationship to the increase in children being born with down syndrome.
Increases in fertility 35+

"In 2003, the fertility rate for women aged 35-39 and over 40 both increased by more than 7%."
source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4104033.stm

Most up-to-date statistics - 2006

"In 2006 there were 669,601 live births in England and Wales. 110,509 were to women aged 35-39, 22,512 to women aged 40-44 and 1,123 to women 45-49. This can be broken down further:

40: 9,303
41: 6,191
42: 3,769
43: 2,069
44: 1,180
45: 585
46: 286
47: 129
48: 77
49: 46
50 and over: 71

There were 194 stillbirths in the age group 40-44, 5 stillbirths to woman aged 45, 4 to women aged 46, 3 to women aged 47, and none to women aged 48 and 49. This made a total of 12 stillbirths in the age group 45-49.

In 2006 the mean age for giving birth was 29.2 years, whereas in 2001 it was 28.6 years of age.

* Extracted from statistics published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in December 2007. "
Source: http://www.mothers35plus.co.uk/intro.htm

In relation to Down's Syndrome IQ it normally sits in the borderline to mild mental retardation category although rarely some people have an IQ within the normal range.

The majority of people with DS learn to live with minimal support. They can learn to cook, clean,do laundry and often work in socially supportive jobs giving back to the society that has helped them to achieve their potential.

Anonymous said...

Guess what in the U.S. my son with down syndrome legally can vote, guess that means in your world he is worth something. I truly feel sorry for you.

Andromeda said...

Perhaps that explains why your country is going down the pan.

Andrew Slade said...

Mums of Down's who spoil their kids are compensating for their own guilt in delaying pregnancy due to contraception & selfish Bridget Jones/Cosmopolitan hedonistic lifestyle.

This argument was deployed by Giovanni Battista Montini (Pope Paul VI) in De humanae vitae which is online in an English translation.

helen ash said...

fear.....terror.....scared.....these emotions along with an individuals core belief will determine the decision to continue with pregnancy or not when "identified"

fear....terror and shear hell....my response to abandon my baby whilst in intensive care..... courage and strength and acceptance of my own potentials and challenging my core beliefs liberated me from terror and i chose to accept my biggest challenge.... i did not have choice to abort because i did not know the diagnosis. 5 of my friends did not know either that their child had down syndrome. more and more babies being born in the UK could be a result of other factors that may include an increase in population, over stretched health services and not neccesarily a perception that a child with down syndrome is a trump card in a welfare state. the potential of a person is driven by that person only, through their choices and pysche and self awareness. it is a good time to explore why we transfer our potentials onto others with limited ability resulting maybe in disappointment and perceived failings and a perception of desire to abort or abandon.
i like to think that in the UK we are diverse. laws to protect those with difference sexual preferences, disability legislation, complaints systems, acceptance of other faiths...maybe more and more babies with down syndrome are being born because as a nation we are outwardly accepting of these? off on another tangent here...more and more toddlers are being diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders, whoopsadaisy...there's a disability we could not pick up in pregnancy to offer choice....think again to the parents emotions upon diagnosis....fear..terror..scared...only with autism a loving bond with the child has usually been established and the child cannot be aborted. welfare state, or not.

Andromeda said...

Thank you, Helen Ash.

I would certainly NOT have amnioscentesis while pregnant as an older mother, so I will not have my pregnancy ruined by wondering whether or not to abort it.

I myself would not have the patience to look after a child and so would consider and probably carry out infanticide rather than allowing the state to discreetly take it off my hands, to be later neglected and abused by others.

Autism is something that we all suffer from. These children who cannot "control their emotions" or see things from another's viewpoint - as we all have trouble doing from time to time - should be treated rather more firmly than they are now.