Sunday, April 24, 2005

Pressure?

To the parents of children with Down syndrome who believe that doctors pressure women to terminate when they learn that they are carrying a fetus with Down syndrome:

I do not doubt that this happens, and if it does it is terribly wrong. It is also not pro-choice. Pro-choice means that the woman chooses what happens to her body, her pregnancy. She is not coerced into having a baby or an abortion.

But it seems that you think that doctors are pressuring women to terminate when they bring up the option, and I think you're flat wrong about that.

We all know how hard it is to learn that your baby has Down syndrome. We all know about the grieving and the ugly feelings that we have and don't like to talk about except with each other. I can assure you, having been there, that women who learn that they're carrying a fetus with Down syndrome have these feelings too.

They're scared and depressed. And some of them might do something desperate. If their doctors don't say to them, as my doctor said to me, "I support you with whatever you choose. But if you do decide to terminate, come to me. Although it's against the law to abort in this state at this point in your pregnancy, you still have options and I will work with you to insure that you're taken care of safely. Do not try to arrange something on your own."

If doctors do not offer the option to their patients, some women will seek out dangerous illegal abortions in their fear and desperation that we understand so well, and these women will die. They will die.

I know that choosing to have my baby, rather than having some doctor make that choice for me, has helped me to cope. I chose this. I chose her. I am invested.

But I think we can all remember those first dark days when we felt and thought ugly things. I think we can sympathize with how women must feel when they're experiencing those emotions without the benefit of a baby to hold. I don't think that those women deserve a death sentence for their grief, do you?

3 comments:

PPB said...

well stated.

Moreena said...

"I know that choosing to have my baby, rather than having some doctor make that choice for me, has helped me to cope....

But I think we can all remember those first dark days when we felt and thought ugly things. I think we can sympathize with how women must feel when they're experiencing those emotions without the benefit of a baby to hold."

What a wise woman you are, seeing both sides so clearly. I have always wondered if it would have improved our psychological health in the first year or so if we had known about Annika's liver troubles while she was in utero, and been given a little more time to absorb the fact that our daughter would probably need a transplant, rather than just being slammed with it all at once in a whirlwind of surgeons and anesthesiologists.

I love that you have expressed so clearly both the difficulty and the later pay-off of knowing.

And to answer your question: No, of course not.

none said...

That´s a very tough situation and in my case I must admit I´m relieved to have found out about my son long after the birth.

I don´t know how I would have coped with knowing before that.

Of course I can´t help wishing that women in this situation could all have a doc like yours...

I believe knowing that one has a choice often helps us make the right choice...