As the mother of a nine-year-old with Down syndrome, I am usually eager to support legislative efforts to protect and honor individuals with Down syndrome. In the midst of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I want more and more people to recognize the vibrant lives led by people with Down syndrome. I believe in the inherent value of every human life, and I want to live in a culture where women receive the support they need to continue unexpected pregnancies and pregnancies with unexpected prenatal diagnoses.
But I don’t support the Ohio bill that would ban abortion on the basis of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
Though accurate statistics are hard to come by, many women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose abortion. Many doctors still provide outdated and biased information when they give this diagnosis, sometimes overstating health risks and social stigma in a way that plays into parents’ fears. Companies that offer early, noninvasive prenatal screening tests often use misleading marketing materials. Although these companies say their tests are 99 to 100 percent accurate, independent investigations demonstrate the inaccuracy of their claims.
I know firsthand the beauty and delight (and frustration and heartache) of life with Down syndrome. Our daughter Penny takes thyroid medication. She has trouble controlling her impulses at school. She has trouble telling time. She also glows with pride after she plays a new song on the piano, and bubbles over when she hears a friend is coming to visit. She skips with excitement when she sees a bookstore or a library, home to thousands of her favorite objects: chapter books. Her life is glorious, messy, and, in her own words, “great.” ...1
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