My nephew was married this past March to a beautiful Australian girl. A perfect excuse to travel Down Under! It was a beautiful wedding celebrating my nephew and his new bride. As at any wedding we made small talk with many of the guests. “How are you related to the bride/groom?” “What do you do for a living?” “How many children do you have?” As we were talking to an Aunt and Uncle of the bride I began talking about my daughter Maybaby and it came up that she has Down’s Syndrome. The aunt told me she worked as a teacher’s aide with the learning impaired and how she loved the Down’s population saying the typical… “they are such loving children.” She mentioned that there were many more children with Down’s Syndrome 20+ years ago than she works with in the schools today. I told her I believed the reason was Australia had legalized abortions and prenatal test have become quite accurate detecting Down’s Syndrome many women choose to abort out of fear of the unknown. It was if a light bulb turned on for her. “I never thought of that, what a shame.”
It is a shame. The choices we make out of fear, misinformation and the unknown.
After the wedding MyMan and I traveled to Tasmania and stayed with an old fisherman and his wife. They took us around to their favorite places, showed some of the “prison” history, and proudly told us their family history which included ancestors that were “transported” from England— in other words they were prisoners sent to the island. MyMan and I spent a day at Port Arthur wandering in and out of old homes, jails, and churches. That evening when we returned to our fisherman’s “shack” (Tasmanian term for cabin by the sea) I asked our host how the Aboriginal population was on Tasmania. Casually he states “they are an extinct people.” He said they were hunted and killed because they created a problem for the settlers. I stood there shocked. Not because I didn’t understand the atrocities that man has inflicted upon man in the name of progress, I do… I just had never heard the term “extinct” used to describe a group of people. I was stunned and heartbroken. That night as I lay in bed reflecting on all I had learned that day I recalled the conversation I had at my nephews wedding… “I don’t see many Down’s Syndrome children any more…” My heart began to hurt all over again … my daughter’s people could become extinct.
I have shared this story with several people and I have been planning to write it in a blog for some months—then articles with titles such as “Iceland Under Fire for the Controversial Method of Nearly Eradicating Down’s Syndrome” and “FACT CHECK: Has Iceland Eliminated Down’s Syndrome through Abortion.” filled my Facebook feed. There it was… I had been pondering the possibility of extinction through abortion and here are glaring facts. Countries with 98%, 94%, 90% — of babies aborted that may have Down’s Syndrome. I’m not a statistician … I’m a mother of a daughter whose collective people could become extinct… I am not taking sides … I am a mother of a daughter whose collective people could become extinct… I am not condemning the choice of a frightened woman … I am a mother of a daughter whose collective people could become extinct…
…and the world will miss out on the beautiful smiles
…and the unconstrained joy
…and the inspiration
…and the love
…and a sister
…and a daughter…
…and then there were none…