Downs Syndrome Early Screening Is early screening for Down syndrome actually necessary?

Cross poster from the Culture Vulture

Last week this blog featured a couple of posts on the issue of prenatal screening, which of course resulted in a slew of comments about the nature of this screening and the resulting abortions of people with Down syndrome that it leads to in the vast majority of cases.

One of the interesting issues that was raised during the course of those discussions was whether the use of screening for Down syndrome was a problematic act in and of itself, or whether it was merely the aborting of people with Down syndrome that accompanies the screening that is actually the issue here.

I think it’s actually a bit more complex than that, because while asking the question about whether the act of testing for a particular genetic condition is unethical or not is an important thing to ask, focusing only on that aspect of the discussion misses other questions, such as ‘is it necessary?’ or ‘when should it actually be carried out?’, which are questions which also have an impact on the question of whether we should be carrying out early screening for Down syndrome.

Some people have suggested that early screening for Down syndrome empowers the parents of an unborn child by providing them with knowledge about their child, thus enabling a batter standard of care for the child, and appropriate support for the parents in this specific caring role.

I think the empowerment of parents is a good thing, however I am not at all convinced that early prenatal screening is actually necessary for parental empowerment – why wouldn’t a test at birth achieve the exact same outcome for parents?

Is there anything unique and pressing that a baby with Down syndrome needs at birth that a baby without Down syndrome doesn’t? If not, then why can’t the test wait until birth?

This idea of parental empowerment is tied closely to the very recent fascination with the notion that we should be ‘managing’ every pregnancy, but I have yet to be convinced that good ‘pregnancy management’ requires early screening for Down syndrome.

Does knowing that your child will be born with Down syndrome actually make the scenario of being a parent of a child with Down syndrome any easier to come to terms with?

Doesn’t it actually create more pressure on the parents, who, while the child is still hidden from sight within the womb, are far more likely to fall prey to unrealistic fears and imaginings that would otherwise be quickly dispelled if the child was actually there to see, hold and touch when they received the diagnosis?

It’s also important to remember that invasive tests such as amniocentesis carry very little risk to the baby if they are carried out much later in a pregnancy.

All of this leads me to conclude that the primary reason for promoting early screening for Down syndrome is to provide a window of opportunity for eugenic abortions to be carried out – apart from reducing the risks to the baby from invasive testing, this is the only thing of any substance that actually changes if you shift the testing process to a point much further down the track.

I had the privilege of being at a bioethics colloquium in Australia earlier this year where this particular issue was debated, and one important point that was raised was that of ‘disproportionate risk’, and it’s impact on the ethics of screening.

Now usually when people think of the issue of disproportionate risk and screening they think of it in relation to the risk caused by the testing (i.e. ‘is there a serious risk of harm to mother or the baby from the test itself?’), but this completely misses the disproportionate social risks of providing early screening for Down syndrome.

You see, when early screening for Down syndrome is made available, there is a disproportionate risk of death to persons with Down syndrome (approximately 85% of people with Down syndrome are now aborted as a result of this screening), and this needs to be considered when evaluating the merits of the act of screening.

When push comes to shove I am yet to be convinced that there is any genuine need for Down syndrome screening to actually take place early in a pregnancy, and therefore I am not at all in favor of the current screening programme, which I think could be carried out much later if, as its advocates claim, eugenic abortion really isn’t a key aspect of this programme.

Downs Sydrome nz New NZ website launched to highlight eugenic screening for Downs syndrome

Cross posted from the Culture Vulture.

If you are one of the hundreds of daily readers of the Culture Vulture you will already be familiar with the tireless and important work of Mike Sullivan, who is leading the charge with a group of other concerned Kiwi parents of children with Down syndrome over the eugenic prenatal screening that is leading to the aborting of almost 75% of people with Down syndrome in this country.

Mike has just launched a new website and Facebook Page called Saving Down syndrome .

I encourage everyone to check out the website here, and join the Facebook Page here.

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Coercive abortion marketing Coercive marketing being employed by abortion providers – new UK report

Cross posted from the Culture Vulture.

The Right to Know Campaign in the UK have just released a new report about the practices of abortion providers in the UK, particularly the fact that they have a financial motives for leading their female clients towards choosing abortion (some even listing an increase in the number of abortions they carry out as one of their commercial aims).

The report also highlights the fact that UK abortion providers are using social validation techniques in their marketing material, and this places pressure on women to opt for abortion.

Social validation (or ‘social proof’) theory has shown that people are more likely to choose an option that is marketed to them if they see evidence that many others, especially those within their social/peer grouping, are making that same choice.

One famous study of this theory involved tracking a person who was going door to door collecting money for charity. This collector carried with them a list of the names of the other people in the area who had already donated money to that charity. The researchers found that the longer that list of names was, the more likely it was that the person being asked would actually make a donation.

One particular UK abortion provider uses social validation techniques on its website and in its guide booklet for women by including this statement at the very start of the information it supplies:

“If you’re considering an abortion it’s important to know that you’re not alone. 1 in 3 women in the UK will have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old.”

The social validation present in this statement, and the pressure that it will exert upon vulnerable women cannot be understated.

Research indicates that social validation marketing is most influential on a person’s decision making processes when:

a) Uncertainty is present – when someone is unsure they are far more likely to take their cue from the behavior of others and then assume that such behavior is the right thing to do.

b) Similarity is present – when someone discovers that others similar to themselves are embarking on a course of action they are more likely to follow that course of action themselves.

The statement shown above from the abortion marketing material in the UK targets both of these things.

Interestingly, I wrote an article last year about an abortion guide that the NZ Family Planning Association makes available to women in New Zealand which places subtle but very emotive pressures on a woman that are far more likely to result in an abortion being chosen.

These are the questions that the NZ Family PLanning Association pamphlet presents to women (in their exact order and wording):

What do I want out of my life?

How will this pregnancy change my plans?

How do I feel about being responsible for a child?

Will I tell the father of my child?
-How will this effect our relationship?
-Will he help me whatever I decide to do?

Will I tell my family?
-Will they help me?

What if I keep my baby?
-Who will help me?
-Where will I live?
-Where will the money come from?
-What about my education and career?

It’s not hard to see why someone would feel pressured towards choosing abortion after reading that list of questions – just consider the loaded nature of these statements and the way in which they are negatively biased.

One of the key recommendations from the new UK report is that abortion counseling needs to be removed from abortion providers and instead carried out by organizations that are completely independent of the abortion clinic, and at a neutral venue.

Surely anyone who is truly interested in choice couldn’t have any reasonable objection to the same policy being implemented here in New Zealand too?

The US based National Black ProLife Coalition has just released a short new video which highlights the fact that each year abortion kills more African Americans than all the other causes of African American deaths combined…

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Cleft Palate New Zealand Seven babies aborted in the UK last year just for having a cleft palate

Cross posted from the Culture Vulture.

The UK Telegraph has just published an article about new abortion figures released which show that at least seven children were aborted last year simply because they had a cleft palate.

Other figures showed that at least one baby was aborted AFTER 24 weeks in the UK in 2005 because they had a cleft palate.

The fact that such a condition could even be considered a justification to abort a human being is truly frightening and really makes one wonder just how far the eugenic mentality has stretched to in the UK.

Presumably these babies were aborted because of the fact that they were considered unfit due to their physical imperfections.

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Are there good reasons for abortion?

On July 26, 2011, in Blog, by Alisdair

Are there good reasons for abortion Are there good reasons for abortion?

This week, the UK radio show, Unbelieviable?, aired an episode on the topic “are there good reasons for abortion?”. The episode saw host, Justin Brierley, moderate a debate between New Zealand blogger Madeleine Flannagan and Wendy Savage, a representative of UK organisation Doctors for a Women’s Choice.

A range of topics related to the issue of abortion were raised which saw some interesting back and forth between Madeleine and Wendy.

Amidst the discussion as to what counts as a good reason for having an abortion, they got into post-viability abortions, whether a foetus is human, whether brain activity or lack of dependency on the mother should be the criteria for humanity, the use of terms like fetus, abortion for fetal abnormalities, abortion to save a woman’s life, the  argument from backstreet abortion and so on. The episode provides a pretty good presentation of the alternative views in the debate.

You can listen to the Unbelievable? episode here:

Are there good reasons for abortion?

Forced abortion china new zealand Does no one even care that Marie Stopes UK hosted the minister in charge of forced abortion in China?

Cross posted from the Culture Vulture.

Just over a year ago Tibet Truth, a human rights organization which focuses on the unjust treatment and human rights violations that take place in Tibet, China, etc, drew people’s attention to the fact that in April last year Marie Stopes UK had hosted Ms. Li Bin, Communist China’s Minister in charge of their National Population and Family Planning Commission as a guest of honor.

The National Population and Family Planning Commission oversees China’s one child and forced abortion policy, and all of the grave violations of human rights that are part of that programme (like the imprisonment and torture of people who speak out against the policy, or the destruction of the homes of women, and their families, who try and have more than the one child allowed by the Communist Chinese regime).

Several British MPs tabled a motion last year opposing Marie Stopes hosting Ms. Li Bin as a guest of honor, but even that failed to attract much mainstream media attention.

So is it just me, or can anybody else see a major conflict of interest that arises when a UK organization like Marie Stopes, which is supposedly committed to ‘freedom of choice’ and women’s rights, hosts the head of a programme which restricts the right of Chinese families to determine family size, and which inflicts forced abortion on Chinese women to enforce this?

And why wouldn’t there be more of a concern about this from the mainstream media?

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Cross posted from the Culture Vulture.

Poppy and Harvey Urban Angels UK child model agency hires two youngsters with Down syndrome to break down barriers

From This is

A top children’s modelling agency has signed two youngsters from Derbyshire with Down’s Syndrome as part of a campaign designed to break down barriers.

Seven-year-old Harvey Simpson and three-year-old Poppy Maynard are now on the books of London agency Urban Angels.

Models from the firm have previously graced the pages of Vogue Bambini – an Italian magazine focused on kids’ fashions.

It is hoped Harvey and Poppy will prove to be a big hit with clients. Companies have already said they would like to use the pair.

The agency’s founder, Alysia Lewis, said both Harvey and Poppy were signed as part of the firm’s Breaking Down Barriers campaign – launched to encourage the industry to use more diverse models.

Alysia said: “I’m extremely excited about Poppy coming on board, she’s absolutely delightful and Harvey was just so adorable and full of joy from the moment I saw him. From a professional point of view he photographs beautifully.”

The campaign was born out of Alysia’s frustration at the lack of models who have any form of disability.

She added: “It’s not campaigning for campaigning sake, after all, the children have fun, the mothers feel proud, and very importantly the average consumer gets to see the true nature of our diverse society.”

Harvey was discovered when he entered the Next/Urban Angels Model competition and was chosen as a winner by Alysia, who started the agency in 2003.

Harvey’s mum Lisa Simpson, 34, of Brookfield Way, Heanor, is extremely proud of her son’s success.

She said: “Our kids are just as gorgeous as everybody else’s. Harvey absolutely loves it. He’s a cheeky monkey, and he plays up in front of the camera, but the photographers are great at catching him at just the right moment.”

After hearing about Harvey’s success, Poppy’s mother Philippa Maynard, of Gladstone Street, Normanton, sent photos of her daughter to the agency and Poppy was signed up.

Philippa, 44, said: “It’s early days yet, but we are hopeful that Poppy will get lots of work.

“Kids with special needs need to be included in the media positively. Our kids need to be represented.”

Saving Lynne Rowe – the ultimate love story

On July 21, 2011, in Blog, by Miriam

Lynette Row story Saving Lynne Rowe – the ultimate love story

Cross posted from the Culture Vulture.

Last week I was emailed this beautiful story of disability and heroic love, and I thought it was definitely something worth sharing – I especially love the bit about the multi-spoon feeding gadget that her grandfather invented…

LYNNE Rowe was born with no arms or legs nearly 50 years ago. Doctors said let her die but her parents refused and took their tiny gumnut home. They have loved her every day since.

WENDY Rowe can’t remember much about the birth except the dead silence in the delivery room and the look on the doctor’s face.

He had delivered her baby. Now, as stricken nurses avoided Wendy’s gaze, he braced himself to deliver the bad news.

Her daughter had no arms and no legs.

Wendy looked at him calmly and said: “We’ll just have to look after her very carefully then, won’t we?”

With those words, the 26-year-old mother of three began the first hour of the first day of the rest of her life. Her little family had been struck by lightning.

It was March 2, 1962. A Friday.

A lifetime later, Wendy Rowe admits she can’t remember what she said to the doctor that day because they sedated her later and everything became a blur. But the doctor never forgot her grace under pressure.

Dr Ron Dickinson is in his 80s now and long retired, but when a stranger recently came to ask him about delivering Lynette Rowe in 1962, he recalled it clearly.

Mrs Rowe was the patient of another partner in their Nunawading medical practice, Dr Hugh Indian.

But Dr Indian had already been called out before Mrs Rowe’s contractions started, so Dr Dickinson stepped in to deliver the baby at Box Hill Hospital.

Time has not erased the shock of delivering that tiny limbless girl. But it was the mother’s bravery and unconditional love that touched him.

Not that Wendy Rowe felt brave, then or now. Neither did her husband Ian, who was at work in the city when he got the call that changed his life.

The caller bluntly told him his baby had no arms and legs. Wendy still wonders if he ever completely recovered.

He ran to the station and caught a train to Box Hill. “But by then they had drugged me and I was out of my tree,” she says.

Wendy can remember just one thing from the following hours: a doctor telling her she should put the baby in a home and forget about her “because she’ll be dead in six months”.

The suggestion repulsed her. But she agreed to leave the baby at the hospital for a few days so she could talk to her husband.

They drove their old Hillman station wagon to Mt Beauty and slept in the back. Not that they did much sleeping. There was a lot to talk about, but no argument; they knew what they would do.

A week later they went back to the hospital, picked up their little girl and took her home. One look at her face was enough, Wendy says, pretending to make light of the biggest decision in their lives.

“Lucky you had such a cute little face,” she teases, looking at her grown-up daughter strapped in her motorised chair, and they all laugh.

“What makes these ordinary people extraordinary is that capacity to smile in the face of heartbreak, to look after each other and to get on with it.

But positive thinking does not make it easy. Nothing is easy when your child has no arms or legs. Not even baby clothes.

The week baby Lynette got home, neighbour Edna Porritt made tiny sleeping bags to fit that little round body, not much longer than a man’s hand. She was the gumnut baby of Nunawading.

Read the full article here…

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Pro-life reading and handbooks

On July 20, 2011, in Blog, by Miriam

Francis Beckwith Politically Correct Death1 Pro life reading and handbooks
Cross posted from Matt at The A-Word.

With literally 1000′s of pro-life texts to choose from out there, one could be reading for years before finding the crucial definitive reads. As someone who researches in the field, here are my picks for the top pro-life handbooks and articles that no credible pro-life organisation or pro-lifer should miss reading.

Some are more challenging than others but all of these titles should be readable for the lay person. Check your library for them. You won’t regret hunting them down.