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Here we are, the topic that really inspired this whole series on parenting for me.
See, my wife and I have sat in the waiting rooms where people go when nature needs some help making babies. And there’s always these helpful pamphlets sitting around offering all kinds of “counseling.”
Counseling? Sounds helpful! Though I just can’t decipher what “genetic counseling” means. But it looks so promising. Look at those happy couples in the pamphlet with their perfect baby. And there are hundreds of tests that we can opt for, before and during pregnancy, which promise to help us make “informed” decisions.
And look at that, the pamphlet even promises that we can wipe out Down’s Syndrome, through the magic of science!
What prospective parent would choose to be uninformed? And what parent would choose for their kid to have Down’s Syndrome? It sounds so promising, but maybe in a George Orwell dystopian nightmare kind of way.
The pamphlets and tests and medical advice are so commonplace, I don’t really know what to do. So I asked for some help to sort things out.
Would You Like To Take A Survey?
The first question that came to my mind was how many people are really getting genetic counseling and these dozens of prenatal tests. The literature and doctors make it sound so ordinary and mundane, like cold medicine. The prospect of the hundreds of genetic defects my child might be born with scares me to death.
“I personally have never opted for any of the additional testing (I have four kids ages 9 years to 6 months) because they are faulty, offer too many false positives which just end up stressing parents out and it wouldn’t have changed anything about my pregnancy decisions.”
Who Doesn’t Want a Perfect Baby?
Okay, it’s good to know that I don’t have to get all the tests, and I won’t be a horrible dad. But something sinister struck me about this whole thing. How can genetic counseling eliminate Down’s Syndrome? It all sounded vaguely like an experiment in creating a master human race, popular with the Nazis and their eugenics program. Everyone wants a perfect baby. But how can everyone be perfect?
“Genetic counseling = eugenics. I can’t improve on that.
Sorry, I think genetics counseling is all about opening a path to abortion, which I never want to support on principle. The only exception I can see is when genetic counseling is used to determine odds that a child may have a inherited disease before his/her parents are conceiving. I can see that information as useful in discernment. But that’s it.
There is a new noninvasive test for Down syndrome in utero, coming out in 2012, and the big pharm company advertising this says things like “this will eliminate” Down’s Syndrome from the map. Well, only if American prenatal care makes every woman take the test at nine weeks and makes the mother have an abortion if it’s positive. The very claim is just chilling: if you have a disability, you’re better off dead.
I think about how many children I see with DS nowadays…virtually none, compared to when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s. That’s because 90% of “DS suspicions” are aborted today. I see genetic counseling as a way to do violence against some of the most vulnerable people in the world, people we have to learn a thing or two from in the first place.”
A Roll of the Dice
Unfortunately, my suspicions were validated. Now I just don’t know what I’m going to do. To be honest, the prospect of having a special needs kid scares the crap out of me, and almost makes me want to skip this whole thing. Do I choose to live in the dark and roll the dice, staying willfully ignorant in the name of faith and justice? Every parent wants the best for their kids. How can I make sure my child gets off on the right start?
“Genetic counseling is not a bad idea. Any tool that better equips professionals and families to best prepare for the unique needs of a newborn is a good idea. The fact that many, possibly even most, professionals and families use this instead as a tool for determining if they will “keep” their child is a cataclysmic shame.
No one can tell the future. Even a “perfect” embryo may grow to get cancer, join a gang, get hit by a car, or someday become a politician. If you’re having a child out of love, these are some the risks you must take. Also prenatal tests do not show potential. Every person is unique and his gifts are not known until he has the chance to show the world his part in the universal puzzle. Great people and even a few ordinary folks who have made a positive difference in their communities have come out the diverse challenge we call ‘disability.’”
Well, I think I know where I stand on this, but I’d love to hear from you. What do you think? Is all that modern science offers good for Christian discernment? Statistically, part of those 90% of Down’s Syndrome suspicions have to be Christian parents. Do we have a moral obligation to make “perfect” babies?