Obviously, I'm just not going to the right dinner parties. Because I've never heard anyone pronounce a parent's "moral obligation" to terminate a pregnancy when prenatal testing reveals a likelihood of disability. The Washington Post's Patricia Bauer has, and the pronouncer--the head of an "Ivy League ethics program"--supposedly snubbed her after she started talking about their experience raising a daughter with Down syndrome.
Bauer's op-ed wants "the national debate" about abortion to include tough questions about how prenatal testing is waging an invisible war against "a whole class of people," namely people with disabilities. One pediatrician "On the west side of L.A." says Down syndrome kids just "aren't being born anymore" in his practice. Translation: wealthy liberal elites are aborting babies with disabilities for their own convenience. [Not sure how line-toeing anti-abortion coding is going to foster sincere dialogue, but hey...]
I'm totally down with Bauer on the Down's kid experience; I've always known Down's people and Down's families to be incredible, inspiring and loving [although as a parent myself now, I can also imagine it's a daunting, sometimes difficult challenge].
But her editorial ends--and turns out to be flecked throughout--with orthodox anti-abortion pro-choice-baiting. Maybe it's natural for the mother of a Down's kid to see the pre-natal testing/abortion issue in this way; but it seems to me that what should follow is not a charge of pro-choice selfishness and hypocrisy, but a discussion about the reasons people decide to terminate a pregnancy. Unsurprisingly [?] Bauer doesn't call for pro-life proponents to entertain that idea, since it would mean conceding that 1) abortion is an individual parental decision, and 2) there are situations where it's acceptable.
When we were discussing the possible circumstances where we might decide to end a pregnancy, Down syndrome was not on the list (neither was a single pre-natal test result, for that matter, but that's a separate discussion).
Do I, like Bauer, hope that people don't base such a momentous decision on incomplete, inaccurate, or outdated information or--even worse--on selfishness and imagined inconvenience? Yes. Do you even want to get me started on the notion of deciding whether to continue a pregnancy because of the kid's gender? No way. Do I think that couching this debate in stealth-polarizing, condescending terms is the best way to go, though? 'Fraid not.
The Abortion Debate No One Wants to Have [wash post op-ed]