published a feature story called, “Prenatal Test Puts Down Syndrome in Hard Focus.” I learned of it because one of the contributors to Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives,” Nancy Iannone, is quoted, though some of what she spoke about (the book) wasn’t included in the final article.
The story attempts to discuss the larger implications of the recent ACOG guidelines, which I’ll be the first to admit is a sore spot for me. But this quote really stood out:
“It’s a mistake to say ‘your baby is going to be mentally retarded, you should have a pregnancy termination,’ ” said Dr. Allan Nadel, director of prenatal diagnosis at the hospital. “By the same token, I don’t think it’s quite fair to say ‘these are wonderful lovely human beings, you can deal with all of their problems and it’s not that big of a deal.’ We strive to have the proper balance.”
To my way of thinking, this statement perfectly illustrates the problem. Here is a man of medicine, educated and intelligent, who feels no discomfort saying it’s not quite fair to speak of people with Down syndrome as wonderful, lovely human beings, and leave it at that.
My point: if you change the sentence, say, make it about people with purple hair, or children with big noses, or even children with low IQs, you would see clearly the prejudice at work here. I hope that someday, when Avery is old enough to read such sentences, people will no longer be speaking them.