Almost all of my posts here are drafted at least a day in advance of their publish date – many of them several days in advance. Because I was consumed with Sigma Kappa convention last week (and my sister and her kids came to visit the day after I returned home), I went to bed last night without a post for today. In fact, I went to bed without even an idea for a post for today, certain it was going to be the first Thursday in over a year that I didn’t post.
But then I got up this morning and checked my email.
On Tuesday, I wrote an open-ended piece about how I didn’t understand why people who wanted a child badly enough to go through all of the tremendous stress and expense of in vitro fertilization (with no guarantee of a baby) would then abort the child if they found out it would be born with Down syndrome. I closed the piece with no conclusion, choosing instead to ask questions of you, my readers, about why that would be.
I considered that maybe these parents were committed to the ideal of a perfect child, and weren’t willing to accept less, but I admitted that I had a hard time believing that. I also put forth the possibility that their doctors pushed them into the decision. Finally, I acknowledged that there could be something else at play that I hadn’t considered.
And then I asked you to help me understand.
Some of you who commented are pro-life; others are pro-choice. All (save one) of you had good thoughts to share. Many of you stated that you believe fear, intense stress and pressure during an emotional time, the belief that people with Down syndrome are a “burden to society,” and ignorance or outdated information could play a role. I was also reminded that not everyone is willing or able to adopt, whether due to logistics, pressure from their family, or a concern that they won’t be able to love a child not genetically related to them, which is something I had forgotten.
I still don’t understand completely, but you all (save one) prompted me to think, which was the whole point of leaving it open-ended. I knew (and stated) that not everyone thinks the way that I do, but that common ground can be found if we are willing to dig deep and look hard enough for it. Just because I think it is wrong to abort a child with Down syndrome, does not mean that I believe those who do are, by default, evil people. I thank all of you who respectfully commented (and hope to hear from some more of you) because you help me to be a better, more understanding person.
But one commenter wasn’t quite as helpful.
I think it may be a bit superficial for you to judge others. What may be “right” for you isn’t always what’s right for someone else. I am the proud Aunt of a child with ds… but I have absolutely no right (nor do you.. I’m pretty sure Jesus doesn’t jude) to call someone superficial because they don’t agree with my views of morality. Your entire post feels snobish.. like people who chose differently are beneath you. Sad. You are no better than anyone… try to remember that.
I decided to re-read my post to see what she was talking about, because I know I’ve written things before that came across differently than I imagined them. I also didn’t have the opportunity to sleep on that post, so I figured my perception might not match reality. After the re-read, I found:
- An admission that my instinct was to be judgmental…followed by an immediate reprimand of myself for feeling that way.
- A statement that I never considered IVF because I felt adoption was a better option…followed by a clear statement that I know not everyone feels the way that I do.
- Acknowledgment that most people who hope for a baby don’t hope it’ll have a disability (myself included, by the way)…followed by a steadfast refusal to believe that all of the people who undergo IVF then abort for Down syndrome do so because they only want a “perfect” child.
- And finally, an assertion of my pro-life beliefs…followed by a statement that the beef I have with the pro-choice argument wasn’t relevant to the issue at hand, which was: someone help me understand why people who go through so much because they want a baby so badly choose to abort it.
So to recap, the common thread I found when I read what I had written was that I had, at every angle, done my best not to judge.
So, R, if you’re still reading…please enlighten me as to how I judged others (and for everyone else – if you read my post on Tuesday and felt the same way, please speak up). I suspect that your comment had more to do with you disagreeing with my “views of morality” and assumptions that you made about me because of it. I don’t claim to be perfect, nor do I claim to be right all the time. But I always make a conscious effort not to offend, judge, or make sweeping declarations that I believe will be hurtful to others.
Having said that, I also don’t shrink from discussing tough issues here, because ignoring the prenatal elimination of those with Down syndrome won’t make it stop. Many women are pressured to terminate their child with Down syndrome and regret it after the fact – the IDSC for Life hears from them all the time – and I suspect that the same happens to some women who undergo IVF. If by taking a stand here I save just one woman that heartache, I’ll continue to do so; fielding daggers from commenters will just have to be part of the job.
I’ll leave the rest of your comment to my readers to respond to, if they choose, though I will suggest that in the future you might not want to start a comment by calling someone superficial and then tell them they have no right to call someone else superficial. 🙂