Suzy Dymock is astounded at the reaction to a protest by parents of Down syndrome children. On Tuesday night Mrs Dymock and a group of five other parents handed out pamphlets to doctors and midwives attending Down syndrome screening training, and Mrs Dymock was asked to leave the meeting. "Why did I have to leave if they've got nothing to hide?" she asked.
Mrs Dymock has been campaigning against antenatal screening for Down syndrome since her son, Bill Gavin, was born with the condition 17 years ago. "When I was pregnant I really was being pressured to abort him," she said. She said that when antenatal screening for Down syndrome often led parents to terminate their pregnancies it was a form of discrimination. "Why is it OK to discriminate against Downs? It's a huge discrimination, you can't even get born," she said. Mrs Dymock said she had been surprised at the volume of comments a story on the Taranaki Daily News website had received – many in support of her protest.
"That's been the nice thing, to see that people are aware of it," she said.
Online, debate raged about whether abortion resulting from antenatal testing showing a high risk of Down syndrome was a form of eugenics, genocide or completely acceptable. One anonymous commenter had the opinion that "Yes we should screen for birth defects and abnormalities. This article is a joke, its not genocide. It's just ensuring that the human race is not afflicted with negative defects. "Screening for blindness or other disabilities would be wonderful too. It's not big deal just terminate the pregnancy very early on and try again. The odds are massively in your favour of having a normal healthy child."
"Seriously? You look forward to the day there are no Downs Syndrome people, no blind people, no deaf people, no dwarves, no diabetics, nobody predisposed to cancer, no colour blind people, no one with a congenital heart defect, no-one born without a limb, no one with a slightly deformed little finger, etc. How about no ugly people? How about nobody as heartless as you?"
Mrs Dymock said that none of the arguments were new to her. "I've heard it all before and I'm not surprised by any of it. It's nothing new," she said.
Continue reading and see video interview.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/ ... st_comment
I post some of the comments here:
PMH #22 06:27 pm May 19 2012
I'm past childbearing age. I have three healthy non-Downs adult children and a non-Downs grandchild. I would have welcomed the amnio test when i was pregnant and would have terminated the pregnancy if the feotus had Downs. I don't need to explain my reasons to anyone, I don't feel bad, guilty, ashamed or any other negative emotion because of that choice. And I would not expect others to try to manipulate me into feeling said guilt etc. I would not have wanted to raise a Downs child. Simple.
Dizzy #21 06:11 pm May 19 2012
Well the problem with this is that it also forces you on one side of the abortion debate. If you're already opposed to abortion, you will by default support the protest. Personally, I think people should be free to make their own choices. Nobody should be pressured to do anything. If I was at risk of having a kid with Downs Syndrome, that is something I would like to know beforehand. I don't know what I would do, but I would like to know so I have a choice.
Sharon #20 06:09 pm May 19 2012
Sally+ - agree with everything you said.
Gerbil #19 06:07 pm May 19 2012
Oh stop banging the drums of self righteousness. If the technology exists, let people use it. Who the hell are you to tell potential mothers what they can and can not do with their bodies?
RexN #18 05:47 pm May 19 2012
Tin Man #14
I'm right there with you until you say "The effort to raise one down syndrome kid could probably be used to raise 3 or 4 'normal' kids down the line. People who cannot even entertain this thought are usually religious or just plain irational."
I believe in choice and you seem to want to remove that. I am not religious, nor do I believe it irrational to think that DS people can contribute to society.
Currently the emphasis from the medical fraternity is to test for DS and abort if the risk is high. That I cannot agree with. Sure, test. Sure offer an abortion if the parents feel they couldn't cope. But let those of us who would choose to love and nurture our children, however they turn out, to do so. Make sure the information given at this time is balanced.
The point of my post quoted in this story is that I believe the effects of having a less than perfect child are not all negative. If the poster I was responding to had their way, the Stephen Hawkings of this world would be eliminated and we would all be the poorer.
Bex #9 nails it.
And my thanks too to the Taranaki Daily Nesa for having the courage to allow us to have this debate.
Phil #17 04:46 pm May 19 2012
The pole attached to this article is very emotively loaded. The point of prenatal screening is to give prospective parents choices. As one half of an older (mid 30's) couple who are thinking about having kids, the possibility for genetic abnormalities is increased. We would, without hesitation, terminate. And with a increasing age of first time mothers, in most sections of society, i suspect we would not be alone in utilising this option.
brad12345 #16 04:07 pm May 19 2012
Mike B - No one is ever 100% healthy. I am a 35 yr old male who is very muscular, and in great cardiovascular health. I do not smoke or do drugs. Yet I do have psoriasis. So I cost more than the theoretical person who is my doppelganger without psoriasis. Unfortunately he does not exist...I do. Humanity needs to be more respectful of diversity for diversities sake, rather than trying to homogenize society on any scale (be it skin color, intelligence, or chromosome count). Doing this will make us a much better society than trying to weed out people and consider them of lesser value. I support abortion, but I cannot support dehumanizing and subjugating one group to another....history has shown us that is a recipe for disaster.
Stella McLeod #15 03:33 pm May 19 2012
Antenatal screening is set up in such a way that 5% of pregnant women will be deemed "high risk". This means if it is offered to very pregnant woman then over 3,000 women will have to go through the stress of having to decide whether or not to have invasive screening when less than 200 will have a baby with Down syndrome or one of the even rarer conditions being tested for. Some of these babies, around 20% will naturally miscarry. It is far safer and less stressful to not screen at all. It is a totally unnecessary intervention. Later ultrasound scans can pick up conditions that may need intervention at birth for the sake of both mother and baby. The baby can have a blood test after birth to confirm if Down syndrome is present, based on observable physical features. This poses no risk to the baby, no risk to the mother and no risk to future babies (abortion can damage the woman's cervix making her body incapable of carrying a baby full term, e.g. as in this woman's experience http://mdbeau.blogspot.co.nz/2006/02/an ... ctive.html After the baby is born should the parents not wish to raise the baby themselves (most do) they can choose adoption. If yo have an abortion there is absolutely no guarantee the next baby will not have a disability or health condition and not all are detectable before birth.
Tin Man #14 02:56 pm May 19 2012
This essentially boils down to your thoughts on life at a core level. Call it spirituality or whatever. I would abort my down-syndrome fetus if I could. Now before you think this is in-sentivive think about it from a new angle. Doing so will not only free up resources, but more importantly it would give me and my partner the opportunity to 'have another go' and make a few more lives. Sure if you are having problems procreating then I see no problem. But as someone who does not believe in a unique 'soul' line waiting to be born, I see no problem with aborting. The effort to raise one down syndrome kid could probably be used to raise 3 or 4 'normal' kids down the line. People who cannot even entertain this thought are usually religious or just plain irational.
Jared #13 02:52 pm May 19 2012
What a ridiculous poll. I would answer "Yes, as long as it is the parents' own choice" if it was an option. But I also agree with "they can make genuine contributions to society". What about:
Yes, these children are a drain on their parents and the state. Yes, as long as it is the parents' own choice. No, they can grow up to make genuine contributions to society. No, I'm opposed to all forms of abortion.
Or even just a simple Yes or No.
As it is, the poll is asking us if we agree or disagree with the opinion of whoever wrote the poll, not what our own opinion is.
Valueall #12 02:51 pm May 19 2012
Heart felt thanks to the team at the Taranki daily news who did this article on listening to the other side of the story and raising awareness on the issue! so very much appreciated (P.S Camera team-Bill got so engrossed in Sponge Bob that he forgot to go down to the dairy to get his "V"-lol!)>
nokiwi #11 01:38 pm May 19 2012
Some irony here.I have just taken a break from marking some Assessments. Working in a Diverse workplace.Completed by International Students who have English as a second ,third or fourth language. They all expressed themselves better than this idiot...pctek #5 Maybe we can do a Citizen exchange?
Fred #10 01:28 pm May 19 2012
Blood Christians. How about letting people make their own choices? If I don't want a Downs syndrome kid, why should some fundie force me to have one?
And Suzanne #4. You were pressured? It sounds as though you're making it up. You agreed to do the screening - no one pressured you.
Bex #9 01:18 pm May 19 2012
I feel the argument should be more about the pressure to terminate a DS baby as opposed to the actual screening. I for one would rather know in advance if my baby had Downs so that I could prepare myself for a life different to what I was expecting. But also I would probably lose it if my doctor pressured me to terminate purely because the baby had Downs. That is like saying their lives are not even worth living so stop them before they start. And that sickens me. My best friend's little sister has DS and she is the loveliest girl you could ever meet. The thought of her and everyone like her never getting the chance to even draw breath is horrible.
emone #8 12:32 pm May 19 2012
Isn't this the type of thing that millions lost their lives in the fight against Hitler for? Racial purity and the elimination of disability as part of the plan for the master race?
TrishB #7 11:50 am May 19 2012
How can people be so negative, are they given both sides to the story on scanning or just told what should happen. Downs children are such loving and giving children who grow to be awesome adults. They too have a right to life.
Mike Sullivan #6 11:33 am May 19 2012
I would like to thank the Taranaki Daily News for covering such an important topic and raising public awareness and debate. The Ministry of Health has consistantly strived to avoid any public discourse on this matter. From Health Report HR 20081110 the Ministry advised the Minister as follows:
"Due to the previous concerns expressed by the disability sector there is a significant risk that these issues will again be debated in the media. The NSU is not planning to announce this initiative to the media however a Communication Strategy, background document and questions and answers have been prepared if the media approaches the Ministry. Ministry of Health spokespeople will be fully briefed to respond to any media enquiries.”
So there we have it. The disability community has concerns, so we won't annouce the programme because there is a significant risk that the public will debate it.
pctek #5 10:41 am May 19 2012
With 7 billion people, and the number compounds now, not increases slowly, why should we have babies like this born? They will be disadvantaged, regardless of the parents thoughts. Poverty, hunger, crime will only increase as the population spirals out of control. If you don't think there is a correlation, stuff rats into a cage and let them breed unrestrained and then watch what they start to do.
Suzanne #4 10:15 am May 19 2012
The blood screening is not always accurate often resulting in false positives. I was pressured to have that test when pregnant with my daughter 13 years ago and the results indicated a high likelihood of Downs. I was then pressured to have an amniocentesis but upon researching I found that the risk of miscarriage during an amnio was higher than the chances of having a Downs baby. I left it to chance and had a "normal" child whom I would love no matter how she turned out...
Mike B #3 10:14 am May 19 2012
@ lc #1 - ignoring the much larger termination/eugenics issue, what is so wrong with everyone being 100% healthy?
Sally+ #2 10:09 am May 19 2012
I think that all females should be offered to have antenatal screening for Down syndrome and any other defects, i think it is there right to. I have nothing agaisnt people having abortions if they do not wish to bring a child into the world with down syndrome or any other defects. My friend has a young boy who is 7 years old and he has williams syndrome and he is one amazing little boy, hes funny and very witty, but he is once again really hard work for his mum who is a single mum, i give her such credit for what she does for him and how much time she has to devote to him. She wouldnt change him for the world. I myself would not be able to cope with him full time. But protesting agaisnt screening for down syndrome children is your choice, but dont make people feel uncomfortable about asking for it,you have your beliefs thats fine but dont push your beliefs onto somebody who might not be as strong as you to go through with a pregnancy if they dont think they cant handle it. Maybe be supportive and understanding. Not everybody is financially able to support a child with any kind of defect.
lc #1 08:49 am May 19 2012
This article...and this topic in general is heart breaking. How can someone suggest that our world would be be better if everyone was 100% healthy and without "negative defects"......that statement makes me sick to my stomach.
The world in general is afflicted with far worse defects...war, poverty, hunger, murder, substance abuse, rapists..... crime in general. Our govements spend billions of our dollars keeping criminals safe and in good health and there are complaints that a child born with Downs in a drain on society.
Have some humanity.