When I was in Scotland earlier this month, I attended a conference on Pre Natal Genetic testing and diagnosis. Euphemisms run rampent when discussing normal, healthy children and parental rights to use technology to have the best children possible. One prominent physician kept insisting that the parent’s perception of their unborn child should be the factor in counseling them what to do. So if you had a bad perception of what it might be like to have a child born with Down syndrome, it would be acceptable to terminate the pregnancy–because reproductive autonomy and parental perception are king. But we all know that our perceptions of something are often very wrong. And many parents of children with Down syndrome have a different view of these children. Today’s Washington Post has a new global study out by the March of Dimes on the “Toll of Genetic Defects”. One line from this study sticks way out for me . . .”Interventions proven to work include genetic counseling for sickle cell anemia, prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, supplementing folic acid in the diet to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, newborn screening for some rare metabolic disorders such as phenylketonuria, and surgical repair of heart defects.” Exactly what are the interventions proven to work as it relates to Down syndrome? The only intervention I know of, proven to work is abortion. But of course I would not call that an intervention at all.
- Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.