[nfbwatlk] FW: Disability Selected Abortions

Philip Blackmer pblackmer27 at gmail.com
Fri Apr 12 00:24:03 UTC 2013

Sorry I forgot to write my message before sending the last message.  While
this doesn't mention blindness it does talk about disabilities in general
and I wanted to know more about the situation especially where blindness is
involved.  I also wanted to know if the NFB has any interest in addressing
this issue.  I am not yet trying to push for any changes or for the NFB to
take action.  Rather I want to know more about the complex realities of this
issue.  Thanks - Philip


P.S. the original message follows:


Parents of unborn babies with disabilities often experience great pressure
to abort

Sarah Terzo 


Wed Apr 10 10:37 EST     

OpinionApril 10, 2013 (LiveActionNews.org) - Now that prenatal testing can
so easily detect babies with physical and mental disabilities, more and more
women are choosing to abort their children if something is wrong with them.
For example, up to 92% of women whose tests show that they are carrying
babies with Down syndrome abort.

Some women have successfully sued doctors for the "wrongful life" of babies
who were born handicapped, claiming that their doctors should have detected
the anomaly so they could abort. Perhaps this is one reason why many doctors
urge their pregnant patients to undergo amniocentesis, a test which is not
without the risk of miscarriage. Along with the pressure to undergo
amniocentesis comes the pressure to abort if the amniocentesis - or other
recommended prenatal testing - shows a problem.

Parents are Subjected to Eugenicist Views and Urged to Choose Abortion

According to one pro-choice author:

Through the gradual introduction of new forms of technology and testing, the
medical establishment and the public health sector have been developing
subtle quality-of-life standards and not-so-subtle ways of discouraging the
birth of those who do not measure up. (1)

Another researcher writes:

The mere existence of a [genetic] technology contains an implicit coercion
to use it[.] . Sometimes the coercion is more than implicit. (2)

Some doctors oppose even allowing women to give birth to their handicapped
children. Bob Edwards, the scientist who presided over Great Britain's first
in vitro fertilization delivery, gave a speech at a fertility convention
where he said:

Soon it will be a sin if parents to have a child that carries the heavy
burden of genetic disease. We are entering a world where we have to consider
the quality of our children. (3)

While it is impossible to know how many OBGYNs share this eugenicist and
elitist view, a number of women have experienced pressure from doctors to
abort their handicapped children.

One women who found out she was pregnant with a baby with Down syndrome
recounted her obstetrician saying, "It could just be hanging off you,
drooling," while encouraging her to abort. (4)

Another writer recounted the following:

A woman I know was told by her obstetrician that her fetus had Down
syndrome. The doctor ordered her to abort, she refused. . Another woman was
similarly coerced. Her doctor told her that her baby would be more like a
fish than a human and would only be as smart as a baboon. (5)

The article this quote appears in talks about a study that found that 99% of
individuals with Down syndrome report being happy with their lives.

Parents often experience great pressure without being told of the great gift
they've been given.

Parents Are Pressured to Make Fast Decisions While Their Children Become
Victims of Prejudice and Discrimination

Women who are pregnant with disabled babies are often pressured to make a
decision quickly. This may be partly because some abortion providers believe
that abortion becomes more dangerous the later in pregnancy it is performed.
One abortionist claims that the risk of abortion complications increases 20%
for each week of pregnancy that passes (6).

Abortions for reasons of fetal anomaly are usually late-term abortions
because amniocentesis can be performed only in the second trimester, and
most disabilities are not discerned until midway through pregnancy. This is
why many women who are carrying disabled babies have abortions in the late
second or third trimester. (This may change with the advent of blood testing
that can detect some abnormalities.)

One study found that parents of babies aborted due to disability or "fetal
anomaly" suffer depression and loss. Those who conducted the study said:

Despite the shock and grief they may experience upon hearing the news of a
fetal anomaly, the pregnant woman and her partner are usually urged to make
the decision to terminate quickly. Behind the urgency is the physician's
desire to avoid complications of 'late' terminations of pregnancy. Because
of the delays involved in amniocentesis, abortions may occur in the second
and even third trimester pregnancy. In health care settings, the issue of
such late abortions has raised ethical and legal questions. In one early
study, most of the terminations occurred within 72 hours of the woman
receiving the news of the abnormality. This hardly allows time for the
couple to become informed about parenting children born with that anomaly
and thus considering carrying through with the pregnancy. (7)

Rayna Rapp, who aborted a baby who was found to be handicapped, conducted
interviews with women who aborted due to their children's disabilities. She
said of her research:

New developments in reproductive technologies assist in the quest for the
perfect baby not only by genetically creating 'better' children but also by
detecting and eliminating fetuses deemed abnormal and defective. In a world
where babies are bred for desired characteristics, having a healthy, normal
baby becomes nothing less than a duty. While it may appear that medicine
simply offers procedure such as diagnostic ultrasound, fetal
electrocardiography, and amniocentesis as options for those who desire them,
the fear of producing a child that falls outside the boundary of 'normal'
compels many women to seek premonitory information regarding the status of
the fetus. As one of [Rayna Rapp's] interviewees explained regarding her
tests, 'if he was gonna be slow, if he wasn't gonna have a shot at being
President, that's not the baby we wanted.' (8)

Rapp reveals that simple prejudice against the disabled is a factor in
driving couples to abort their babies.

Parents Suffer from a Lack of Accurate Information

Along with prejudice against the disabled and pressure from doctors to
abort, another factor driving these abortions is that couples who face a
disabled baby are often given limited, one-sided information. Their doctors
may overemphasize the suffering that handicapped children go through or
present the worst-case scenario. This may be because the doctor fears being
sued or because the doctor has his or her own prejudices towards disabled
people. According to one woman who aborted her disabled baby and later
regretted it:

We had only one isolated piece of information, not a whole crystal ball. How
were we to know what would be best? .

A person reeling from shock, numbed by a sudden catastrophe, cannot think.

In pressuring couples to make a decision quickly, doctors deny them the
opportunity to come to terms with the fact that their baby will most likely
have a disability. When couples are given biased information and pressured
to make a quick decision, they may not have the wherewithal or opportunity
to do a great deal of research on their own. They may not have the
opportunity, for example, to thoroughly research the disability and talk to
parents of children with disabilities. Many times, these parents would
encourage them to carry their pregnancy to term. In reality, many women who
have their babies with disabilities are glad they did not abort.

The mother of a five-year-old girl with a cleft lip and palate wrote this
letter to the editor:

I was horrified to read that many couples now opt for abortion rather than
risk having a baby with such a minor physical imperfection. My daughter is
not some abnormal freak[.] . She can, and does, lead a happy, fulfilled
life[.] . What sort of society do we live in when a minor facial deformity,
correctable by surgery, is viewed as so abnormal as to merit abortion? (10)

A beautiful gift.

When radio show host Dr. Laura broadcast a call from a woman who aborted her
baby with Down syndrome at 20 weeks, parents of handicapped children wrote
her letters to express their disapproval. One man, the father of a baby with
Down syndrome, said the following:

Today, the 28th of March, I was listening to talk to one of your callers.
She recently had terminated the life of her child in her 20th week of
pregnancy and I believe the child's 20th week of life.

The child's life was ended when it was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. This
really struck a nerve and infuriated me, as I and my wife have the honor of
being parents to our 22 month son, Conner, with Down Syndrome, that along
with our other 2 children (a daughter 8 and a son 5) the joy and light of
our life. This person that ended the child's life has no idea of the joy or
divine love that these special people possess. It is hard for me to
understand the callousness that she had about thinking that the child was a
mistake of nature and it was okay to terminate its life. I would almost dare
say that it is our limited understanding of these special people that is the

I have often looked into Conner's eyes and have felt a true divine, Godlike
love shining forth. I will be honest and say that our life has not been
changed by Conner. Unlike our other two children that walked before they
were one and talked by two and developed in what we understand as 'normal'.
Conner has yet to walk on his own, but he does possess the ability to
brighten the darkest days we have faced.

I would hate to think of life without Conner, he is the light in our
families' lives. Our other children think the world of him and I feel are
gaining a greater understanding and acceptance of 'ALL' people, unlike the
caller today. She has missed a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow.

These are the voices that parents considering aborting their children with
handicaps need to hear. In pressuring these couples to abort quickly and
giving them one-sided information, doctors encourage these parents to have
abortions which they may later come to regret. The opportunity to bring a
special and unique child into the world is taken away from these parents,
and the ultimate gift of life is taken away from their children. 


1. Elizabeth Kristol. "Picture Perfect: the Politics of Prenatal Testing"
First Things 32 (April 1993): 22 Quoted in Paige Comstock Cunningham, Esq.
"The Supreme Court and the creation of the two-dimensional woman" Erika
Bachiochi. The Cost of "Choice": Women Evaluate the Impact of Abortion" (San
Francisco, CA: Encounter Books, 2004)

2. Lori Andrews, Future Perfect: Confronting Decisions about Genetics (New
York: Columbia University press, 2001), 63

3. Sunday Times (London) July 4, 1999 as reported in American Feminist,
winter 1999 - 2000

4. Jonathan Finer "Study: Negativity Often Tied to down Syndrome Diagnoses"
Washington Post, April 29, 2005 A 3 Quoted in Ramesh Ponnauru The Party of
Death (Washington DC: Regnery Publishing, 2006)166

5. Rebecca Taylor "99% of Adults With Down Syndrome Report Being Happy in
Life"LifeNews.com 10/6/11

6. Dr. Henry Morgentaler, abortionist: press conference. Statement read at a
joint press conference with the Manitoba Coalition for Reproductive Choice
in Winnipeg, Friday, June 23, 2000

7. Donnai P, Charles N, Harris R. Attitudes of Patients after "Genetic"
Termination of Pregnancy British Medical Journal 1981; 282: 621 - 622, P622
in Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy and Ian Gentles. Women's Health after Abortion:
The Medical and Psychological Evidence Second Edition (Toronto, Canada: The
deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, 2003) 159

8. Rayna Rapp "Moral Pioneers: Women, Men, and Fetuses on a Frontier Of
Reproductive Technology," and Hoffman et al., Embryos, Ethics and Women's
Rights, 110, from Kathy Rudy. Beyond Pro-Life and Pro-Choice: Moral
Diversity in the Abortion Debate (Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1996)

9. "Brown, Judy" (pseudonym) The Choice. Journal of the American Medical
Association 1989, 262:2735

10. Susan Kitching, London Sunday Times, February 11, 1990

Reprinted with permission from LiveActionNews.org. Sarah Terzo is a pro-life
author and creator of the clinicquotes.com website. She is a member of
Secular Pro-Life and Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians.

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