I read with some dismay your story ("Blood test for Down's syndrome" 30 June 2010) which expressed the "hope" that a new non-invasive pre-natal test for Down's syndrome will soon be widely available. This "hope" seems to be based on the fact that the test may reduce the numbers of miscarriages of so-called "healthy" babies who currently die as a result of invasive tests to detect Down's syndrome." In doing so, it perpetuates the common myth that while killing a "healthy" baby is a tragedy, killing a disabled baby is to be lauded.
A spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology dubs it the "holy grail" of Down's syndrome testing, while the lead researcher "hopes all women in the world will eventually be offered the test." She further claims it is "safe, cheap, fast, reliable and accurate" and that it "will be of immediate benefit to pregnant women ..." She fails to mention two facts: it is no benefit to a pregnant woman to be enabled to abort her disabled baby, however apparently "safe" and "cheap" the detection process may be. Indeed post abortion distress is particularly common among such women; and it most certainly is not a "benefit" to the baby who has Down's syndrome, or any other disability, to be killed by abortion.
I am severely disabled myself, and use a wheelchair full time. I have spina bifida, another disability subject to the popular notion that killing disabled people is more beneficial (to our mothers? or to society?) than letting us live - and that it is, conveniently for a cash-strapped society, also very cheap.
Is any greater offence possible to a human being than to be told that killing her/him is a "holy grail" and to laud the cost benefits of doing so? I seriously doubt it.
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