This week the Arkansas legislature has exceeded its standards for ignorance and arrogance with Senate Bill 2, which outlaws abortion in cases where the fetus is genetically impaired with Down syndrome. The text of the bill, https://legiscan.com/AR/text/SB2/id/1959872/Arkansas-2019-SB2-Draft.pdf, specifies felony charges against any physician who performs an abortion for a woman with a Down syndrome fetus.
Let that sink in. A woman cannot terminate a genetically impaired fetus. She cannot save herself or her family or their future from the staggering workload of caring for someone with an IQ of 50, who in 80% of cases can never live independently or work to support his or herself, who will be subject to serious medical issues such as congenital heart defect, epilepsy, leukemia, thyroid diseases, and mental disorders. About half will suffer severe sleep apnea, throat infections, chronic constipation, and high rates of various cancers, to name but a few.
This is yet another play by the Forced Birth movement, not content to let women and couples decide when and how to put their unique sets of DNA into the world.
Who pays for this? Well, even though Arkansas has so far removed over 15,000 people from its Medicaid services for failing to report work hours, anyone born with Down syndrome is automatically qualified for Medicaid. For life.
Between medical costs and the sheer physical and emotional effort involved in raising a Down syndrome child, the state is seriously overstepping its moral authority to force this on anyone.
Also not mentioned in the discussion of this issue coming before the House next week is the very real problem of further contaminating the human genome, already under assault from chemical pollution that reduces sperm count and increases birth defects. According to Wikipedia, “Males with Down syndrome usually do not father children, while females have lower rates of fertility relative to those who are unaffected. Fertility is estimated to be present in 30–50% of females. …Around half of the children of someone with Down syndrome will also have the syndrome.”
No one is forcing women to abort a genetically impaired fetus. If a woman chooses to keep such a pregnancy and enter into the lifelong commitment of caring for the impaired child, that is her rightful choice. The state should leave it at that.
13 thoughts on “Forced Birth”
I left a comment previously, but it doesn’t show that I did. So, I’ll send it again.
Ms. Campbell, as a mother of a child with Down syndrome I am saddened by this. My greatest fear of how society would view her is reflected in your article. For those who cannot see past her diagnosis to the unique individual she is, I would ask why. Why are families not given the contact information of other parents who are living the life of their newly diagnosed unborn child? Why is one individuals life worth more than another’s? Why is all human life not considered precious and worth fighting for? Why are we even debating whether it is moral to end another human life at any stage?
It has been proven for years now that those with Down syndrome can and do thrive because of advances in medical science, inclusion, public education, early intervention, therapies, and advocacy. As well as ongoing research into Alzheimer’s that is made possible by individuals like our daughter. Our daughter is certainly excelling and I have high hopes for her future. I have to keep reminding myself not to put limitations on her as she continues to meet and exceed her goals. She already touches the hearts of those we meet and that in itself is a hard feat nowadays. In a way she is her own testimony of what life with Down syndrome looks like. I can honestly say I’m a better person and this is a better and more beautiful world with her in it.
I am curious, Ms. Campbell, on how many individuals with Down syndrome you are actually familiar with. How well do you know them? How well do you know their families? After all we are the ones who have the daily interaction with them and regardless of your answer, no two individuals are alike, I would invite you to come and meet our daughter.
Thank you for your time,
Thank you for your thoughts, but the reason your previous comment wasn’t published is that I have had to limit comments to protect my blog from hate speech. I voiced my opinion on a public forum regarding a proposed law that would ban abortion for Down syndrome fetuses and in return, I’ve been attacked with vicious profanities, wishes for my death or physical harm, 1-star reviews with hate speech about my books, and a concerted effort to deny me an award for an article on a Civil War soldier I wrote last year. These are not reasonable responses to an opinion on a matter of public policy, but rather emotional outbursts that do harm to your cause.
I understand a parent’s love for a child — I have three children. So I understand why parents of DS children would be emotional. But in the effort to assault me for my opinion, when a woman’s right to abort for any reason remains the law in our nation, this is not a persuasive argument that could win me (or anyone) over to your point of view.
More to the point, emotion should not overwhelm the right to free speech. What I expressed in my comments is my opinion, not a threat to you or to any other parent. If parents of DS children want to counter opinions such as mine, the American way is to present an alternative argument citing statistics just as my blog cited statistics in support of my opinion.
Emotional hate speech about any subject is like walking up to someone whose opinion you don’t agree with and punching them in the face instead of talking about the points of difference. I have no doubt that you and other DS parents love your child and want only the best for its future. I will refrain from further arguing my point. Thank you for a non-hate communication.
Ms. Campbell is not and did not state that people with Down Syndrome and other cognitive disabilities SHOULD NOT EXIST. What she said was that families should have a choice. She had stateted truths that families with children with disablites take offence to. I take offense to being the 84 % majority of mainstream people that have to cowtow to special accomodations. Our schools are suffering with lack of funding, having mainstream programs cancelled. While special ed has zero needs or wants…..even throwing away resourses to make room for more! Our public education system was put into place to create a populous that can contribute to and carry on our society. I do not agree with or support the idea of inclsuion and funds in our public school system for children with severe special needs. We have no business providing medical care at school if we cant even afford a field trip for the main population. The budget should be EQUAL for every student. Period.
Ms. Campbell, I am do very very sorry that your stance is affecting your standing eith the Historical group. Know that there are people who believe as you.
Most likely they wont speak up….because it pisses the minority off!!!! …and they will win.
Thank you for having the bravery to stand up on this situation. No doubt you will become a target now, a truly tragic statement on the state of our some people’s failure to understand the need for reasoned debate on matters of public policy.
Do you, or Denele Campbell have any idea how very hurtful and ignorant your words are?
Are you aware of how very much inclusion for the disabled in the school setting BENEFITS the neurotypical population of students? There are numerous research studies that demonstrate inclusion benefits are GREATER for the typical students than for the disabled students.
Have neither of you been touched by a disabled child? Let me remedy that for you…
Wow. That’s pretty hurtful, and ignorant.
I can attest first hand that raising a child (for 34 years!) who hovers around the developmental level of a 6 month old infant IS human life, and that even one at that level can be brimming over with compassion for their fellow man (certainly far, far more than this author has for sure😕).
This was written as a response to a post in a parent support group asking us to share something our kids are good at.
What my kids are good at 💗💗💙
My 21 year old mild Aspergers/ASD son, who is halfway through college earning his teaching degree (history!) hugs me, tells me he loves me in front of his friends. And he’s absolutely amazing at his grasp of world economics and politics, he would be an asset to a think tank somewhere. He also takes me from 0 to 100 in no time flat😂.
My daughter, forever 34👼🏻💔, was profoundly, multiply disabled, medically fragile/complex; she was the very best at love, giving and accepting it.
And as profoundly disabled as she was, she had the gift of compassion💝…I remember once when she was in the hospital, she was 3, and I was standing in her room holding her, and her roommate was a tiny one year old heart baby who weighed only 7 lbs (you can imagine the life this baby had, the interventions😢) and when they came to draw this tiny baby’s labs, he began to cry…and my daughter, who was also blind and didn’t use her little voice other than for a very, very rare “ooh”, “coo”, or “goo”, who never cried, even with her own pain and procedures, or fussiness, burst into tears, loud sobbing with real tears rolling down her cheeks, and just cried inconsolably like her own heart was broken while that little baby cried. I’ve never, ever forgotten it. I just know she felt that little baby’s misery and it pierced her heart.
And my NT daughter, a BCBA supervisor and clinical director, with a masters in psychology, in addition to being gifted and a mover and shaker in the world of special needs, the best…I’ve watched her bloom into a mama I so admire, one who is loving, selfless, and fierce💗✨. I can guarantee growing up with her disabled sister and her autistic brother had an immeasurable impact on her, and her choice of career.
This, shared by a grandmother in a grief group, could have been written by my own mother. It touched me deeply. And it describes our little Rosamunde (forever 34💔) and our life with her almost word for word….to protect her privacy, I’ve taken out the name of her granddaughter, substituted my own daughters name, and made some tweaks here and there.
***what did Rosie do? ***
Today marks the 1st anniversary of my granddaughter’s passing. Rosie was one of those very special children whose life could not be measured or quantified in any of the ways we normally evaluate our children’s development. She didn’t walk, talk, sit up on her own, nor did she perform at dance recitals, take gymnastics, ride horses, cheerlead, play sports or achieve academic honors.
What did Rosie do you might ask?
Well, she changed her entire family for one thing. I think all of us to varying degrees, are more empathetic, understanding, less quick to judge, more open to love, more likely to support, have a greater desire to serve, appreciate our abilities far more than we would have without Rosie in our lives.
I watched her mother become a fearsome advocate for her daughter.
I watched her father find ways to stimulate her senses that most of us would never have thought of.
I watched her younger sister cling to Rosie as a young child without reservation, always accepting her older sister in a way far beyond the maturity level of other children her age.
I changed, along with her other grandparents, her aunts and uncles and cousins.
What did Rosie do you might ask?
Rosie cooed the softest, sweetest little “oohs”, “whoos”, “coos” and “gooos” I’ve ever heard, and the sounds still echoes in our collective memories today. I hear it whenever I think of her. She survived seizures and procedures, needles, poking and prodding, surgeries, physical and occupational therapy and oh. so. much. more.
She taught countless doctors, specialists, nurses, educators, phlebotomists, social workers, hospice personnel etc so much!
She also had some of the greatest home health nurses who loved her and became like family to all of us.
Were we devastated when we realized Rosie would not be the child her mother had dreamed of, planned for, prayed for? Yes, we were. That grief was nearly as heavy as the day we faced the loss of her physical presence in our lives. But we learned because she taught us something we would never have known without her, the true meaning of unconditional love, loving without expecting anything in return, the joy of receiving when you never expected it.
What did Rosie do you might ask?
She did miracles!
So loved, so missed, at perfect peace!
Our little Rosamunde, forever 34💔
LOVE…was her special word…because…
Love, is what she gave…and love, is what she leaves with us.
And oh yeah, let the choice of pregnancy decisions up to the mother (and father).
The point of what I’ve said is to give people the choice whether to face this kind of challenge. I’m glad you found value in your experiences. Not all women/husbands/families would make that choice, and government should not force them to.
Michale, I am pro life so I am a bit biased, but so is everyone when it comes to this issue, I suppose. Before my daughter was born I understood very little about Down syndrome. Personally I believe this needs to change. We seem to fear what we don’t understand. I doubt I’ll ever be an expert, but she definitely is the best teacher on the subject.
Some of the things I have brushed up on since the birth of my daughter is history of those with disabilities, particularly Down syndrome. And I certainly don’t agree with I’ve discovered. Here is the way individuals with Down syndrome were treated 50 years ago. They were hidden away from society by being institutionalized. In these institutions they had short life spans usually not over age 25 due to abuse and neglect. They received little to no education as they were thought to be incapable of learning. To me, this sounds a lot like the injustice done to groups of people in the past and I would hope no one would want to go back to the way things were done then. Because of this families have fought for inclusion. And we have seen the results. Longer life spans with life saving medical intervention, statistics show inclusion not only benefits the individual with disabilities but also their typical peers and that they can and do have the ability to learn.
You and Ms. Campbell have expressed your opinions, I just happen to disagree.
Thank you for your time,
In all honesty I find your recent comment distasteful and misinformed, to assume someone with different mental and or physical capabilities cannot give back to society is ignorance at its best, it’s pseudo science to assume they are lesser and it is that very same thing that caused racism in its current form, I understand your point and agree people should have a choice but as an author the words you chose are deeply offensive and if you fail to see that then I have to wonder, perhaps you also have one of these “disabilities” as many like to call them in the form of autism and would you personally like for yourself to be referred to as never able to contribute to society?
Sean, I am so very sorry that you are upset with my opinion on a woman’s right to abort a DS fetus. My comments regarding this proposed Arkansas law were supported by data I cited. I’d be happy to see your data refuting any of my points about why a woman carrying a DS fetus should seriously consider whether she wants to bring that fetus to term. Sadly, in Arkansas where this law has now passed, we will see a long series of lawsuits to overturn this ban which, incidentally, violates federal law.
Perhaps read and digest the whole of my comment I actually agreed a family should have a choice I clearly pointed out the wording you chose was poor at best
Everyone has an opinion Sean. If you don’t like my wording, don’t read my blog.
Don’t have a blog if your not prepared to have your opinions and ways of expressing them challenged
Did it escape your attention that I did in fact post your comments? I didn’t have to do so.