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Verse 5

Yesterday afternoon's web edition of The Washington Post's story Down Syndrome Now Detectable In 1st Trimester
Earlier Diagnosis Allows More Time for Decisions
noted that "word of the study triggered criticism from opponents of abortion, however, as well as from those who object to its use to prevent the birth of children with Down syndrome."

But, as is often typical in stories like this, the only folks quoted were right-to-lifers. No disability spokespeople were quoted. It would be easy to get the impression that disability groups worried about the ability to abort Down Syndrome fetuses were simply right-to-lifers themselves.

Every major disability rights group I know of comes down on the decidedly pro-choice side of the spectrum. They do oppose abortion for disability, however. They oppose it the same way feminists oppose abortion of female fetuses specifically because of gender.

Wonder why the Washington Post reporter -- Rob Stein -- couldn't find any of these groups to talk to? Did he look? Did he call them -- only to have his calls go unreturned on deadline?

If this sounds like Verse 5 of "Where are you, gimp groups?" -- you're right.

The Toronto Globe and Mail, in reporting the story, quoted Michael Shaw, chairman of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, who

said the group does not oppose prenatal screening but is concerned about how results will be explained to would-be mothers and what they will do with the information. "Let's be honest: The only advantage of first-trimester screening is so parents can abort, and about 80 per cent do if they learn they are going to have a child with Down syndrome," he said. Mr. Shaw said the society's position is that "women have the right to choose but we want them to make an informed choice." He said most Canadians -- including many physicians who will be giving the results of tests -- have an unduly pessimistic view of Down syndrome, and fail to recognize that the vast majority of children born with the condition live full and fulfilling lives.

A very good piece on ABC News' Good Morning America does find and interview mothers who felt they'd been given less than accurate information about what to expect about a child with Down Syndrome:

Beth Allard:

"They called me at work to tell me, and then said, 'You have two weeks to decide if you're going to keep this child. Either way, it's an awful thing,'" Allard said. Allard said she was told her child wouldn't be able to read, write or live any sort of productive life. Outside of that, her doctor gave her no further information or resources, she says. "They were very negative throughout the whole thing," she said. "I cried every day. I was so scared."

But there weren't any national disability groups in this story either.

It's my impression from the past that most national disability rights groups, while supporting a mother's right to choose, strongly question the message they say is sent to people like Allard -- that a child with Down Syndrome has no meaningful life, and that life with a Down Syndrome child is awful.

Over at the Beyond the Ramp blog, they've taken up this issue, too.

Michael Berube has a very good essay that ran in Dissent awhile back. I recommend it. While not directly on this point, it makes the larger issues that need to be made in this discussion.

Earlier this morning, I posted today's Edge-Centric entry, in a slightly different form, over at Daily Kos. Phew! Lots of commenting -- perhaps "railing" is a better word -- and much of it, seems to me, missing my entire point but upset that I suggest women not have the choice to abort Down fetuses. That's not what I said! Whatever.

Any of you dedicated Edge-Centric readers who'd be willing to wander over there and post a comment to balance stuff out would be most appreciated.