The National Down Syndrome Society and Lettercase have joined forces to produce Understanding a Down Syndrome Diagnosis (updated in 2017 and available online for free). It looks like the producers intend that the booklet be distributed to patients by their obstetricians after a pre-natal test suggests that the fetus has Down Syndrome. Lettercase also offers a companion brochure for doctors called, Delivering a Down Syndrome Diagnosis.
I am delighted that doctors will have such tools are available, and I hope many use it. The booklet provides “accurate, up-to-date, and balanced information about Down syndrome . . . [and covers] available health and education services, common medical conditions for babies with Down syndrome, information about pregnancy options, and helpful resources about the condition.”
I don’t know what they mean by “pregnancy options.” I assume, since this is intended for all medical professionals to use, that one of the options listed is abortion. I also assume that the rest of the booklet helps parents consider keeping their child. After all, the National Down Syndrome Society’s mission is to be the “national advocate for the value, acceptance, and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome.”
Some research suggests that as many as 90 percent of children with Down Syndrome in the U.S. are aborted annually. Prenatal testing continues to advance so that confirmation of Down Syndrome is more accurate and easier. It’s a national tragedy that we as a society in North America are throwing away human lives through abortion, and such a high percentage of babies with Down Syndrome.
If you receive news that your unborn or newborn child (or grandchild) has Down Syndrome, grieve the loss of the child you were expecting. Then rejoice in the life of the child that God is bringing into your family. Or if you are a pastor or friend or pastoral care giver to parents who find out their child has Down Syndrome, grieve and rejoice with them. To hear from others about the positive impact that children with Down Syndrome have had on their families, get a copy of Praying with Lior and laugh and cry with Lior and his family as they prepare for his Bar Mitzvah. Also, read Disability Concern’s newsletter that featured people with Down Syndrome. Doing this will help drive away the fear and understand better the wonderful plan that God has for each human life.
Update (April 30, 2015): Although the abortion of any child with Down syndrome, solely because the child has Down syndrome, is always a tragic loss, a new study indicates that the reported 90 abortion rate of children with DS may be grossly exaggerated. That study found, "For the U.S., as a whole, an estimated 30% of fetuses with DS were selectively terminated in recent years, more or less stable since 1996." In addition, researchers found that ethnicity of parents dramatically affected the elective abortion rate of children whom prenatal testing showed that they had DS: "Reduction percentage estimates turn out to differ greatly by race/ethnic group—highest for Asians/Pacific Islanders (61%), followed by non-Hispanic whites (39%), non-Hispanic blacks/Africans (27%), Hispanics (18%), and American Indians (16%)." (Source: de Graaf G, Buckley F, Skotko BG. 2015. Estimates of the live births, natural losses, and elective terminations with down syndrome in the United States. Am J Med Genet Part A 167A:756–767.)