Yesterday I published a guest post by Nancy McCrea Iannone, an expert on Down syndrome and pregnancy. I would like you, please, to go read it and share it. Independent blogs like mine need your help to spread the word on any given message.
The post talked about an assault on the pro-information coalition by anti-abortion activists and legislators in Louisiana. Pro-information stands for the many pro-life AND pro-choice people who have come together to try and change how the pre-natal diagnosis is being presented. We know that at least some of the very high percentage of terminations after a pre-natal diagnosis of Down syndrome take place after being told things that are either simply false or skew towards the negatives. We know that doctors deliver the diagnosis, then ask, “so would you like me to schedule a termination for you?” We know we can do this better, and we are, thanks to the efforts of so many.
It happens with post-natal diagnoses too. When Nico was born, in that terrifying and grief-stricken first hour, we were given a huge list of things that might possibly go wrong, This was, I know, merely medical due diligence, like the list of side-effects or complications that the doctors feel required to give you, but it skewed our early encounters with our baby in ways that took awhile to un-do. Fortunately, we had an actual living baby to care for, and cuddle, and get to know, and that made all the difference. In the absence of that child, in the pre-natal context, the negative overwhelms.
Hence, pro-information. It’s a complicated position for a pro-choice man like me, because mandating information has become a tactic in the anti-abortion movement – the mandatory transvaginal ultrasound is proposed as an “information” procedure, though clearly it’s meant to discourage women from having abortions rather than go through with the invasive procedure. It’s also a complicated position for pro-life folks as ultimately they are hoping the woman chooses life, but they are acknowledging choice is part of the equation.
Here’s the bottom line though on which (I think) we all agree: whatever information is provided in the context of the pre-natal diagnosis should actually be true and inclusive.
Can we all agree on that? Doctors should provide the whole picture to their best of their ability, representing the best current knowledge on life with Down syndrome and what it’s like? If they don’t, they are not in fact best serving the needs of their patients.
But one of those options is abortion. It’s not the option I want people to choose. I am deeply worried about the eugenic strains that run deep in American culture and plan to do much more writing on the subject in the year to come. But it’s one of the options. Laws that exclude that option, that criminalize that option, are not part of my movement.
The minute pro-information becomes a smoke-screen for anti-abortion activism, I am out.