Sanctity of Life - Down Syndrome

Sanctity of Life - Down Syndrome (1-26-2014)

Everyone has heard of wrongful life lawsuits. This is when a doctor and/or medical facility is sued because a patient died and there is a desire to assign blame and perhaps win a financial settlement. Most of us however, have never heard of a “wrongful life lawsuit.” This happens when parents believe a doctor should have advised them to abort their baby and the doctor did not. These types of lawsuits are now influencing insurance companies and doctors to advise couples of the option of abortion when their baby is discovered to have a medical condition that might be very expensive to treat.

As an example, according to academic researchers, 92% of babies with a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome are aborted every year across the United States. Even the tests for the condition have trendy names like “Harmony” or “MaternityT21” and “Verify.” Sometimes, mothers do not even know their baby is being tested until the results come in.” One study showed that the tests have a 8 percent inaccuracy rate. That means there is a chance that a healthy baby could be aborted in some cases. Often, parents are misinformed because insurance companies do not want the liability or expense because 55 percent of children with Down Syndrome might have heart surgery in their first year.

Even if the parents of a child with Down Syndrome do not feel prepared to handle the responsibility, there are thousands of families who are willing to adopt him or her. Last summer, a couple had already scheduled an abortion of their down syndrome child when a pastor in Virginia convinced them to wait 24 hours. He put an alert on his church’s Facebook page and other organizations shared the information. Within one day 900 people from around the country expressed willingness to adopt the baby. According to the organization, Americans United for Life (aul.org), for every baby available for adoption in the US, there are 36 couples waiting in line. According to Christian Homes and Special Kids (CHASK.org), children with Downs Syndrome are the easiest to place with adoptive families. They have 600 prescreened parents waiting to adopt. It’s easier to find adoptive parents than babies for adoption.

Thankfully, more accurate information and help is available through organizations like the National Down Syndrom Society (NDSS.org), which calls itself, “The National Advocate for People with Down Syndrome Since 1979.” And the International Down Syndrome Coalition (theIDSC.org), that says “All life is precious” on its home page. From them we learn that in every cell in the human body there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes.  Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes. Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome, making Down syndrome the most common genetic condition. Approximately 400,000 Americans have Down syndrome and about 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born in the United States each year. There is no definitive scientific research that indicates that Down syndrome is caused by environmental factors or the parents' activities before or during pregnancy. The additional partial or full copy of the 21st chromosome that causes Down syndrome can originate from either the father or the mother. See more at: http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/What-Is-Down-Syndrome/#sthash.eRx35gPU.dpuf

We also learn from a recent nationwide study of 3,000 parents and siblings of people with Down Syndrome that 80 percent of parents said their DS child gave them a more positive outlook on life. 90 percent of siblings said their DS brother or sister made them better people. And an overwhelming 96 percent of people with Down Syndrome said they were happy with their lives. By comparison, only 59 percent of people in the general public report feeling that kind of satisfaction and self-esteem.

In fact, according to noahsdad.com, there’s never been a better time in history to be born with Down Syndrome. These kids are driving, graduating from college, getting jobs, getting married. One study shows that the average IQ of people with DS has increased over the past decade. That’s because of early intervention. More info is available at lettercase.org and brightertomorrows.org.

To conclude, all of this is helpful information as we reflect on the Sanctity of Life today, Sunday January 26, 2014, the day our beloved hierarch, Metropolitan Iakovos has declared for remembrance. Our chancellor Bishop Demetrios travelled to Washington DC this past Wednesday January 22nd to represent Archbishop Demetrios and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese at the annual March for Life. Afterwards, he said, “It is inspiring to see that, after four decades and counting of legalized infanticide, the March for Life was joined by so many young women and men from all across our nation, and there are those who feel deeply that we must protect all human life, from the preborn to those on death row and everywhere in between as we prayed in our memorial vigil. Though this battle will not be complete until we repeal certain laws and reverse court rulings, abolishing abortion on demand as well as capital punishment, we are advancing in our fight for hearts and minds. Virtuous hearts will always win the day.” Amen!