Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus wrote in a column published today that she would have killed her unborn child if a test determined it had Down syndrome and that, therefore, it was “a child whose intellectual capacity will be impaired, whose life choices will be limited, whose health may be compromised.”
“… I was old enough, when I became pregnant, that it made sense to do the testing for Down syndrome. Back then, it was amniocentesis, performed after 15 weeks; now, chorionic villus sampling can provide a conclusive determination as early as nine weeks. I can say without hesitation that, tragic as it would have felt and ghastly as a second-trimester abortion would have been, I would have terminated those pregnancies had the testing come back positive.”
She went on to say:
“Certainly, to be a parent is to take the risks that accompany parenting; you love your child for who she is, not what you want her to be. But accepting that essential truth is different from compelling a woman to give birth to a child whose intellectual capacity will be impaired, whose life choices will be limited, whose health may be compromised. Most children with Down syndrome have mild to moderate cognitive impairment, meaning an IQ between 55 and 70 (mild) or between 35 and 55 (moderate). This means limited capacity for independent living and financial security; Down syndrome is life-altering for the entire family.
“I'm going to be blunt here: That was not the child I wanted.”
Marcus ultimately concludes:
“Technological advances in prenatal testing pose difficult moral choices about what, if any, genetic anomaly or defect justifies an abortion. Nearsightedness? Being short? There are creepy, eugenic aspects of the new technology that call for vigorous public debate.”
And that: “[T]hat these excruciating choices be left to individual women…”