Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Friday, 23 October 2009

Which means that some babies are "dying NECESSARILY"?

Archbishop Chaput is a man I am coming to admire more and more, the more I read his words, as opposed to what others say about him, (we were living in Denver temporarily when he was charged with that see, and I remember at the time thinking that wherever we went subsequently we would be hearing more from him...)

In First Things he has a stunning, at times chilling essay on the way secular society looks at "imperfect" life (as if we were any of us perfect!) entitled Conscience, Courage, and Children With Down Syndrome.
His remarks on the medical establishment and those with Down's Syndrome are very telling.
Go read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:
What kind of people are we becoming, and what we can do about it?

A number of my friends have children with disabilities. Their problems range from cerebral palsy to Turner’s syndrome to Trisomy 18. But I want to focus on one fairly common genetic disability to make my point. I’m referring to Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome....

Prenatal testing can now detect up to 95 percent of pregnancies with a strong risk of Down syndrome. The tests aren’t conclusive, but they’re pretty good. And the results of those tests are brutally practical. Studies show that more than 80 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are now terminated in the womb. They’re killed because of a flaw in one of their chromosomes—a flaw that’s neither fatal nor contagious, merely undesirable...

pregnant women now hear from doctors or genetic counselors that their baby has “an increased likelihood” of Down syndrome based on one or more prenatal tests. Some doctors deliver this information with sensitivity and great support for the woman. But too many others seem more concerned about avoiding lawsuits, or managing costs, or even, in a few ugly cases, cleaning up the gene pool.

We’re witnessing a kind of schizophrenia in our culture’s conscience. In Britain, the Guardian newspaper recently ran an article lamenting the faultiness of some of the prenatal tests that screen for Down syndrome. Women who receive positive results, the article noted, often demand an additional test, amniocentesis, which has a greater risk of miscarriage. Doctors quoted in the story complained about the high number of false positives for Down syndrome. “The result of [these false positives] is that babies are dying completely unnecessarily,” one medical school professor said. “It’s scandalous and disgraceful . . .

and causing the death of normal babies.” These words sound almost humane until we realize that, at least for that professor, killing “abnormal” babies such as those with Down syndrome is perfectly acceptable....

The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is never between some imaginary perfection or imperfection. The real choice is between love and unlove, between courage and cowardice, between trust and fear. And that’s the choice we face as a society in deciding which human lives we will treat as valuable, and which we will not.[emphasis supplied]...
Every child with Down syndrome, every adult with special needs—in fact, every unwanted unborn child, every person who is poor, weak, abandoned, or homeless—is an icon of God’s face and a vessel of his love. How we treat these persons—whether we revere them and welcome them or throw them away in distaste—shows what we really believe about human dignity, both as individuals and as a nation.

I have been thinking for a long time about a music project, inspired by a lovely child I know here.
Her younger brother sang with my choir, and after I assured her parents that her inability to learn the music was immaterial to her joining us if it would make her happy, but scheduling always defeated our intentions.

I was going to call it Singing With the Angels, and perhaps after the Big Move I will find an opportunity to embark on it.

(Oh, and for a truly, horrifyingly, obscenely chilling read? check out some of the comments at First Things)


Tara said...

I did read some of the comments, and was saddened. As the mother of a child with Down syndrome, I know better than to read the comments of really great articles...and yet, I do. And you're right, chilling is the word for them. Sigh.

Scelata said...

Thank you for stopping by.
I'm sorry you were hurt by the comments.

God bless you and you family.

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)