Choice Operates Both Ways

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Pro-life group Love Both’s campaign to keep the Eighth Amendment

 

The claim that 90 per cent of babies diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome in Britain are aborted is not inaccurate but it is rather misleading.

What it leaves out is the very large number of women – between 30 and 40 per cent – who choose not to be screened for DS because they have already decided that even if the test were positive they would continue with the pregnancy anyway.

In Holland, only 35 per cent of women choose to be screened. Prof Eva Pajkrt, co-author of a Dutch study, told the Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment:

“We asked women their reasons. One reason was that many women in the Netherlands felt that Down syndrome was not something we should screen for. I think that reflects our way of counselling women and giving them their own choice. Our healthcare is based on patient autonomy and what women want.”

Choice operates both ways – some women choose abortion, some choose to raise a child with DS.

…The choice to continue with a DS pregnancy is made, not in the abstract, but in real life. Anti-abortion campaigners claim that the Eighth Amendment has made Ireland a lovely place to have a DS child.

Love Both’s pamphlet says of DS that “we have a culture of equality and inclusion that we can be proud of”. Senator Rónán Mullen claims, “We have a tradition here in Ireland where children with Down syndrome are perhaps more cherished than in many other countries.”

That would be the DS children who wait two years for a wheelchair or three years for language therapy. That would be Ireland whose grand total of DS clinical nurse specialists is precisely one – and she’s paid by a charity, not by the State.

Fintan O’Toole in yesterday’s Irish Times

Child with Down syndrome will be face of anti-abortion campaign (Fintan O’Toole, irish Times)

Alternatively…

Charlie Fien is a UK-based Down’s Syndrome activist.

83 thoughts on “Choice Operates Both Ways

    1. Joe

      They could and should have hit out harder then that “Stop using folk with DS to push your agenda”

  1. Cian

    Just to put numbers on this: 58% of foetuses with DS are aborted Vs 42% born

    if we assume a mid-figure of 35% for people don’t ask for tests: for each 200 foetuses with DS, 70 don’t get tested (and are born), and of the 130 that do get a positive test, 13 don’t an abortion (the other 117 are aborted).

      1. Cian

        I was using the numbers from the article above (except I took the midpoint of 30-40%).

        The claim that 90 per cent of babies diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome in Britain are aborted is not inaccurate but it is rather misleading.

        What it leaves out is the very large number of women – between 30 and 40 per cent – who choose not to be screened for DS because they have already decided that even if the test were positive they would continue with the pregnancy anyway.

        Fintan O’Toole wasn’t arguing that the 90% number was incorrect, he was saying that it was only a part of the story.
        I was just filling in the numbers

  2. Fairhill

    Had 4 Pro lifers come to my door last night, asked them for extra glossy brochures to light the fire for a few days, one wouldn’t be enough to compensate me for getting up to close the door in their face

  3. postmanpat

    Raising a DS is a drag and not everyone is up to it. At least these pregnant ladies are being honest with themselves. Which is more than you can say about Senator Rónán Mullen , who will never have to worry about raising a DS or any child for that matter. He’s the eternal bachelor who hasn’t met the right woman yet… if you know what I mean.

    1. Brother Barnabas

      “Raising a DS is a drag”

      genuinely the first time I’ve read something in a comment on this site that i find disgustingly offensive

      1. Rob_G

        I think that you taking this up the wrong way; someone in my family has Downs, and her mother would be first to concede that it is very hard at times.

        1. Brother Barnabas

          “a DS” is pretty offensive – we’re talking about a person who happens to have that condition. it’s not the entirety of them.

          raising any kid can be a drag. anyone who’s ever had any experience with a child with DS will know that they’re the most loving, affectionate, trusting and funny kids around. and families who have a child DS will tell you that it’s been the most enriching addition to the family.

          i used to go out with a girl who had a brother with DS – he was in hindsight the best thing about her (plus her boobs)

          1. The Ghost of Starina

            While I agree that “a DS” is offensive on the same level as saying “a chinese” or “the blacks”, the sentiment is understandable. And while kids can be “a drag”, too , they eventually grow up. To parent a person with Downs is to agree to be a carer for the rest of their lives.

          2. Niamh

            ‘and families who have a child DS will tell you that it’s been the most enriching addition to the family.’

            I know you mean well, but that is patronising AF.

      2. Cian

        Raising kids is a drag.

        Seriously, it’s hard work! I can’t imagine how tough it would be if they had health issues.

  4. Brother Barnabas

    would be great if they’d call the referendum for next tuesday

    then we could get it over and done with – and not have to endure this sort of thing

        1. newsjustin

          Do you not agree that abortion in other jurisdictions leads to the widespread (if not complete) abortion of human foetuses because they happen to have Down Syndrome?

          That’s an important thing to consider in the context of voting to repeal the 8th and legislate for abortion.

          1. Nigel

            Since the alternative is to force women to bear children they do not want to bear, with or without DS, and that really is the crux of the matter. as a consideration it’s a red herring.

        2. Cian

          Do you not agree that abortion in other jurisdictions leads to the widespread (if not complete) abortion of human foetuses because they happen to have Down Syndrome?

          did you not read the Fintan O Tool article above were he refuted this?

          1. newsjustin

            Yeah. Even taking your figures above Cian. You say that 58% of foetuses with Down Syndrome are aborted. Is that not widespread, as I’ve said?

          2. newsjustin

            58% is widespread. It’s more than 1 in every 2.

            I specifically put (if not complete) in to stress just that – clearly not all foetuses with Down Syndrome are being aborted in the UK. But it certainly is widespread. And in certain other countries it is almost complete.

  5. Daisy Chainsaw

    Good luck to Charlie Fien and her advocacy for people with DS. It’s her absolute right to choose to do so and I respect her for it. I hope people will respect other decisions she may make in life too, as at 21 she may want a sexual relationship and to have children herself.

  6. newsjustin

    I agree with Fintan and others who rightly point out that people with Down Syndrome, and their families, are certainly not given the services and care that are there’s by right. Ireland is not an ideal place to be a person with Down Syndrome, or to be raising a young person with Down Syndrome. Nor is Ireland ideal for raising a child born with any disability, born into poverty or born to parents with addiction problems.

    But facilitating the abortion of babies with Down Syndrome is not a means of vindicating the rights of people with Down Syndrome.

    If the 8th Amendment is removed, babies will be aborted because they happen to have Down Syndrome.

    1. Brother Barnabas

      telling lies already, justin

      screening for DS can’t happen until 11 or 12 weeks at the earliest

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        And it’s screening for various syndromes. There’s Edward’s and Turner’s too. Which, unfortunately, I had to find out about. They can screen for Down’s at 9 weeks but the results take around 10 days.

        1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

          It would be no harm to “speed it up” to allow people to have more time to think about it before they have to make a choice, if abortion is limited to 12 weeks.
          It’s not an easy decision to make.

          1. newsjustin

            That will happen, especially if the 8th is repealed. And there will be less and less children with Down Syndrome allowed to be born.

            Please don’t accuse me of lying Brother Barnabas.

        2. Brother Barnabas

          if this place is doing it at 10 weeks, it’s because it’s a for-profit clinic that prioritises profit over anything else. for accuracy, it needs to be around 12+

          anyway, not really the point

          you really think there are women who’ll discover their child has DS and will opt to abort because the procedure is available locally? but if they had to go to the UK they’d go through with the pregnancy instead?

          1. newsjustin

            “anyway, not really the point”

            Yet it’s precisely the point you accused me of lying about.

          2. Brother Barnabas

            and I stand by that, Justin

            your claim “If the 8th amendment is removed, babies will be aborted because they happen to have Down Syndrome” isn’t true

            firstly, at most, we’re talking about 12 weeks (probably less) – and it’s not possible in the majority of cases to determine DS by then

            secondly, abortion is currently available 40 minutes away – nobody in those circumstances who would have an abortion if it was available here is opting not to because it’s ‘inconvenient’

          3. Brother Barnabas

            that’s not what I accused you of lying about

            i introduced that fact to refute your untruthful statement

    2. The Ghost of Starina

      “But facilitating the abortion of babies with Down Syndrome is not a means of vindicating the rights of people with Down Syndrome.
      If the 8th Amendment is removed, babies will be aborted because they happen to have Down Syndrome.”

      Both of these statements are factually correct. You’re saying them from an anti-choice stance, but pro-choice people understand both of these things as well.

      1. newsjustin

        I agree, for the most part. Although there still seems to be some who can’t, or won’t, see any link between abortion and people with Down Syndrome.

        It comes back, then, to the same old question. Is it permissible to end the existence of a human because of their genetic makeup, or because they have a disability. Or, in the case of the legislation that looks likely to emerge, for no particular reason once it’s 11 weeks 2 days, but certainly not 12 weeks and 1 day.

        1. The Ghost of Starina

          Get this straight right now, newsjustin. Nobody ever, EVER gets an abortion “for no particular reason”

          1. newsjustin

            The type of blood tests used to diagnose things like Down Syndrome at 10 weeks also gives certainty on whether the baby is a boy or girl. For a very small portion of people, that may be a factor. Lots of reasons. My point is, no particular reason needs to be given to any doctor to procure an abortion ( if the talked about legislation materialises).

          2. Nigel

            Quite rightly. This issue underscores how deeply conservative people want to insert themselves into women’s healthcare decisions.

        2. Niamh

          It is permissible to prevent the development of an implantation into a human being. We do so with the morning-after pill already. This decision is an act of moral responsibility and always an incredibly difficult one. Up until a point – which we can probably agree is 10 weeks – that is what the pregnant person is doing. After that, I agree, it becomes more complicated, and that is reflected in the fact that NOBODY takes this decision lightly.

          I really do feel, personally, that if you can imagine they do, you just lack empathy. It’s not heroic, it’s immature. And misogynist.

    3. Cian

      “If the 8th Amendment is removed, babies will be aborted in Ireland because they happen to have Down Syndrome rather than having to go over to the UK to get the abortion.”

      Fixed to make it more accurate.

  7. Daisy Chainsaw

    The 13th amendment facilitated choice and we have thousands of Irish abortions a year because of it. Making it all about Down Syndrome is a convienent side show because this is about the choice of a woman or girl to have an abortion, and nothing to do with the reason why because that’s nobody’s business.

    The substantive issue is that the thousands of Irish abortions should be performed in Ireland, not hypocritically exported.

    1. newsjustin

      Nobody is making it all about Down Syndrome.

      There are lots of things to consider when it comes to removing or altering 40.3.3. Not to mention any legislation that follows.

  8. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    Being told you have a foetus with DS or a more fatal syndrome is incredibly difficult. Having to make a call about it, either way, is incredibly difficult. Please don’t think that it’s a throwaway decision or that the person involved doesn’t wrestle with the morality of the issue. Just because their morals are different than yours doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
    This whole debate makes me so angry.

    1. newsjustin

      Morals may differ. But we will be asked to decide if the laws of this country will permit something or not. Something that, as you alude to here yourself is very serious.

      We can’t have it both ways: a deeply personal, sensitive issue that we shouldn’t really mention, let alone criticise……….so let’s decide en masse to make it legally permissible without debate, whatever our concerns.

    2. Daisy Chainsaw

      It’s easy to cast the woman or girl as a fickle sex addict who has an abortion as often as she buys new shoes. When the numbers are presented – 54% of abortions are to mothers, 70% to women either married or in a long term relationship – the fickle young wan myth falls by the wayside.

  9. realPolithicks

    To be honest I find this whole conversation puzzling, thousands of Irish women have abortions every year this will continue whether the 8th is repealed or not. Whats really at stake here is how Ireland will choose to treat women, will they allow them to avail of the medical services necessary for a termination of a pregnancy in Ireland or will they for them to travel abroad for this service.

  10. nellyb

    I thought hunting raped women who became mothers and parading them like trophies was disgusting, now they moved on to children and parents with disabilities. I think our island deserves to be wiped by tsunami.

  11. some old queen

    Interesting that so far, Iona has not made an appearance. Maybe they linked up with the Scientologists so changed strategy? Same neighbourhood after all.

  12. AB

    “The National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register for England and Wales tells us that while the percentage of children with Down Syndrome who are aborted following a prenatal diagnosis has remained stable at about 90pc (a huge figure), their absolute number has significantly increased because the percentage who are being screened has also increased greatly. Fintan O’Toole does not point this out.”

    A response to Fintan O’Toole from the Iona Institute. https://ionainstitute.ie/down-syndrome-and-abortion-the-facts/

    1. Cian

      “their absolute number has significantly increased because the percentage who are being screened has also increased greatly.”
      Are people being screen against their will? Or are people choosing to be screened?
      I know personally of two ‘at risk’ women (i.e. older women) that were offered DS screening when they were pregnant but both refused because they wouldn’t have an abortion anyway – so preferred not to know. Perhaps more people are choosing to know?

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