Several months ago, I got a comment on my blog from a writer who was compiling an anthology of essays by mothers of children with Down syndrome. She suggested that I submit an essay. I did so, and it was accepted. The book, Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives, publishes today (from Woodbine House). It's also available on Amazon.com.
From what I've heard, it's a very good read. I certainly support its purpose: to help educate people about what it really means to have Down syndrome or to have a child with Down syndrome.
As I've said before, I believe that too many women, when faced with the unexpected and unwanted diagnosis of a fetus with Trisomy 21, choose to terminate their pregnancies because of fear of the unknown and overly negative assumptions about what life will be like with and for a child with a disability.
As an indirect result of my essay in Gifts, I was interviewed by a New York Times reporter for a piece in Sunday's paper. This was exciting (I get a chance to speak about something I feel very passionate about) and flattering (someone wants to hear what I have to say!). It is also a little scary because, unfortunately and ironically, a few of the people who are most ardently "pro-life" are scary and violent. I've been harassed by anti-abortion trolls before, so being public like this does make me feel a bit uncomfortable, largely for the sake of my children.
But the risk is small and I think it's worth it for the opportunity to continue this discussion publicly. I'm glad that people are talking about prenatal testing, abortion, and morality. I hope that the discussion continues, loudly and with enthusiasm, for many years to come.
Clarifying my position on abortion and genetic testing:
I believe that abortion should be legal, safe, and accessible. I do not believe that it's for me, any religious group, or the government to decide what a particular women or family can bear. I believe choosing to continue my pregnancy with Ellie helped me feel invested rather than trapped/resentful.
I believe that there are serious moral concerns with regard to abortion, and especially abortion of specific fetuses (e.g. those with non-fatal traits that the parents deem undesirable). I believe that we don't do any favors for the pro-choice movement when we decide not to discuss the nuances of these issues.