An episode of 60 minutes aired last night (view HERE) which questioned if early non invasive testing would essentially end Down Syndrome and questions, do we really want to?
Local South West Sydney Mum, Melissa has a 3yo son, Samuel who has Down Syndrome. She shares her story with us below…
Tonight on 60 minutes a segment aired that looked at NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing) and considered whether it would mean the ‘eradication’ of Down Syndrome (referred to in the medical world as Trisomy 21).
People with Down Syndrome are not a ‘risk’ and they do not need to be ‘eradicated’. It is our society that needs to change, especially in the medical world. There are very few stories in our T21 (trisomy 21) community of people with a prenatal diagnosis receiving encouragement and support to keep their baby. The majority face considerable uneducated pressure to terminate by a wide range of medical professionals. What these families need is support and to meet someone who has been in their shoes. They do not need to feel (or hear the words) ‘sorry’ about valuing their precious little unborn child. Life is so precious, let’s ensure it stays thay way!
Not only has this notion of eradicating Down Syndrome caused great offence to families and siblings of people with Down Syndrome but for the actual people in our world that have Down Syndrome it sends a clear message that they are not deemed worthy of life. For many (if not most) of these families and people with Down Syndrome, they would actually not choose to remove the fact that they have Down Syndrome as it makes them who they are.
As a christian I stand whole heartedly to the belief that all life is precious. I am convinced that NIPT is resulting in even higher levels of termination (at least 95%).
Imperfection is perfection! We need to live in a society where difference is valued and where we have to learn how to relate to a range of people. This grows us as human beings. When we start to decide whose life is deemed worthy or not, we are heading into the dangerous territory of eugenics. It wasn’t that long ago that other minority groups were being persecuted and killed for simply being who they were (Jews, Aboriginal people, African-Americans…) and we are now horrified at the atrocities that took place.
As a mother of a child with Down Syndrome I can genuinely say that Down Syndrome is not what defines my son. Yes, it is part of what makes him who he is but he is so much more than that. I don’t see a child with a disability, I just see Samuel, my son.
And yes, there are challenges, as there are with parenting any child but just because we struggle at times it by no means says that we wish our child wasn’t born. We grow and mature through these challenges and wouldn’t want Samuel to be anybody other than who he is.