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Article about Down Syndrome and termination in the Sunday Times today.

(93 Posts)
saintlydamemrsturnip Sun 19-Jul-09 20:03:36


It starts with the sentence "Children should not be brought into this world to suffer". It then goes onto explain that the woman tested positive for DS and so had a termination at 19 weeks. And finishes with that chestnut about pressure on the other children.

Now I believe in abortion and believe that every woman has the right to an abortion for whatever reason. None of my business. But I do get cross with the oft spouted idea that people with learning disabilities 'suffer'. And I do feel that I am entitled to challenge that (without challenging the person's choice- not interested in their choice, but if they start talking about 'suffering' in public with no experience well.... ). I am now fortunate enough to know a lot of people with learning disabilities and I haven't yet met one who is 'suffering'. This is something I think that society needs to understand and people with LD's will never be treated equally whilst they are seen as suffering or people to be pitied who live half baked lives. My friend has a grown up son with DS and she recently attended his friend's engagement party. I asked what it was like when she got back and she said 'well you know, full of people with LD's so brilliant and a lot of fun' which just about sums up my experience of LD's.

And the stuff about siblings makes me cross too. DS2 at one stage got quite excited at the thought he could live with ds1 when older so he wouldn't have to marry a 'yucky girl', but now knows (aged 7) that is not expected of him. When asked what his future 'job ' is he says 'to sort out social services' and he also understands he can do that from Australia if need be. DS3 will come to understand the same. And meanwhile, yes there are things they can't access so easily because of ds1 but they also get a whole bunch of positives from growing up with a disabled sibling. Overall I think the effect of having LD's around them in their childhood will be good. Certainly they're happy.

There was a small panel on the page about a woman who kept her baby with DS, but predictably it wasn't given the coverage of the termination suffering children suffering siblings story.

Phoenix4725 Sun 19-Jul-09 20:33:03

hmm guess my smily happy cheerful ds is suffering then according to some professional , what do i know im only his mum

makes me so cross when they think children /adults with sn are suffering yes have bad days but so does everyone sn or nt.

fizzyanddizzy Sun 19-Jul-09 20:49:02

I too am pro choice and don't look to judge ( I hope) but the whole article makes me feel really uncomfortable and quite angry.

No doubt it is just unfortunate wording but to talk about a baby that they have 'lost' that would have been adored just feels like such a waste.

waitingforgodot Sun 19-Jul-09 21:04:28

It made me cry when I read it earlier.

vjg13 Sun 19-Jul-09 21:13:54

I think the type of language in the article helps the writer rationalise/justify a decision that they regret deep down.

saintlydamemrsturnip Sun 19-Jul-09 21:20:28

Oh yes certainly, it makes it not just an acceptable decision, but a kind and sensible one. But in reality she doesn't have to justify her decision to anyone, and if she's going to write about it in a national newspaper has to realise that her words affect others. Associating 'suffering' with learning disabilities is something that should be challenged. But the idea is so deeply ingrained it seems an impossible task.

BalloonSlayer Sun 19-Jul-09 22:05:55

I cried when I read it too.

I can't get my head around it. Too weepy to explain without risking getting flamed. sad

2shoes Sun 19-Jul-09 22:07:01

I just don't understand these articles. I gave up reading it tbh as it is fullof the same old shite(JH ) imo just another person dressing up the fact that they didn't want a disabled baby.

lagaanisace Sun 19-Jul-09 22:20:33

re: the sibling argument - I think having a sibling with LD has been very positive indeed for DS1. It has helped to give him a broad sense of normality and he readily accepts people for who they are. I think the two of them get on so incredibly well because of their differences - there's just no competition between them. He also feels pride when he's able to teach him something or can understand him if we can't.

Of course there may be some downsides as they get older, just as there are upsides. Sometimes I have to shelve DS1's needs a little. But having DS2 as his brother is diefinitely shaping who he is, and I firmly believe for the better. smile

lagaanisace Sun 19-Jul-09 22:22:26

I'd just like to add, so I don't confuse anyone, that DS2 does not have DS, but he does have LD.

busybeingmum Sun 19-Jul-09 22:22:59

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cory Mon 20-Jul-09 00:28:03

this suffering argument is bizarre

I think what it is is that people are projecting; subconsciously they are thinking something like "what would my sense of loss be if I suddenly had all my abilities taken away from me"

but that is just silly. I expect Mozart would have suffered terribly if he had his musicality taken away from him but I am not suffering terribly because I haven't got Mozart's talent

it is not a loss: children with Downs syndrome are who they are, just as any other child is what they are

Shells Mon 20-Jul-09 00:57:50

I hate these articles too. Desperate need for self justification and a request for sympathy when underlying it all is the 'I don't want a child like yours' train of thought.

Hate it.

donkeyderby Mon 20-Jul-09 01:04:21

It was a sad read and I felt a shock wave at the bit where she describes the baby's heart being stopped. In the end, she made her decision based on her experiences and beliefs which are pretty standard - so many more women chose to abort DS babies than chose to keep them. I suspect she isn't totally at peace with her decision, hence the need to justify it in a national newspaper.

How could she ever be expected to know the richness of life with a disabled child? It's only something I've found out by having my ds and I always think that if I had known in advance of my ds's disabilities and their severity, I may well have aborted. I just felt sad that it's one less disabled baby in the world and one less family who know the value of people with LD.

mummypig Mon 20-Jul-09 01:49:20

I don't even want to read it. I agree with all you've said already.

I grew up with a severely disabled sister and it was only right at the end of her life that I really think she 'suffered'. And I certainly feel my life was enriched by having her as my sister. I truly would not be the person I am now, if I hadn't had her around as I was growing up. And certainly neither myself or my other sister would ever consider having a termination just because the medics told us there was a risk that the baby might be disabled. In fact I declined some of the ultrasound scans when pg with ds3 for that very reason.

I've always felt that people who talk about disabilities equalling suffering or who talk about 'quality of life' (as if somehow they can put a number on it) don't know what they are talking about. I agree with Cory that they could be projecting how they would feel if they had certain abilities taken away from them. And I remember reading in New Scientist a while back that people's perception of how bad a certain situation might be (e.g. having a car crash and becoming paraplegic) is actually worse than the real experience. One might think your life would be 'not worth living' if something like that happened, but if it really does happen then most people manage to make the most of it and still enjoy life.

Somewhat contrary to the New Scientist article, I also remember being a bit annoyed by Christopher Reeve's take on becoming disabled. Although he did a lot of campaigning and raising awareness, his determination that he would some day walk again seemed to make the experience something negative that he had to get out of, rather than acknowledging that he still had lots to be thankful for.

I know I'm talking more about physical disabilities than learning disabilities or Downs Syndrome here, but the principles extend to the situations mentioned in the article.

eidsvold Mon 20-Jul-09 05:01:36

once again - ignorant ill informed bull shit. Nowhere near displaying any knowledge about the truth surrounding the lives of people with ds and learning disabilities in general. I usually do not read this sort of stuff anymore as it just makes me cross and annoyed at how ignorant people remain in such an age of knowledge.

LeninGrad Mon 20-Jul-09 05:42:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JackBauer Mon 20-Jul-09 06:53:14

Oh what a horrible article. I don't have a child with LD's but I thought it was almost mawkish, and just p;ure defence of her position, which she had obviously decided was right and was not going to be disabused of the notion.
Not going to explain what I truly think of this as will get flamed but I don't ever want to read shite like that agaib.

BalloonSlayer Mon 20-Jul-09 07:54:34

"Not going to explain what I truly think of this as will get flamed" JackBauer - me too.

HecatesTwopenceworth Mon 20-Jul-09 08:00:50

How does a child with ds suffer?

A person in constant physical agony that cannot be helped by even the strongest painkillers - they suffer! I fail to see how having ds, or the majority of other disabilities means your life is one of constant suffering. I don't get it.

FioFio Mon 20-Jul-09 08:21:37

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sarah293 Mon 20-Jul-09 08:27:14

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cyberseraphim Mon 20-Jul-09 08:27:38

It's very disturbing - it reminded me of a book I read recently in which a couple terminated a pregnancy for the same reason but they pretended to themselves and the wider world that it had been a miscarriage. The key issue is lack of honesty. If someone would just say 'I only want a 'perfect child and I can't be bothered with anything else' it would make everyone's life and reading a lot easier ! I don't know anyone who has had a miscarriage who pretends that it was an abortion - so people in these situation need to ask themselves honestly why they feel guilty. Writing an article won't make the feelings go away.

Shells Mon 20-Jul-09 08:30:52

It wouldn't be boring Fio, but it would disabuse people of the notion that disability is scary and socially alienating and damaging to 'normal' people. And no one seems to have any interest in promoting that.

There's so much 'I need the perfect family' stuff around that there seems to be a need for it to be socially acceptable to abort these babies. I almost think its worse than it used to be sometimes.

saintlydamemrsturnip Mon 20-Jul-09 08:34:48

My 'suffering' child is sat next to me stuffing 2 chocolate biscuits into him waiting for his bus giving me a cuddle. Very pleased with himself because he swiped the biscuits whilst I was on the phone. And I bet you the bus driver has brought along jelly babies for the kids to share.

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