Over the weekend, the New York Times had a front-page story on the Ohio GOP’s plan to pass a ban on abortions based on prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. It got a ton of social media play and was the top story on Huffington Post for some hours yesterday, in part because John Kasich, Ohio’s governor, is the “moderate” running for the GOP nomination.
I wrote a piece for CNN on the issue. I would appreciate you sharing it within your social media networks.
As a parent of a child with Down syndrome and a pro-choice man, I have this to say.
1) The Forced Birth movement does not actually care about disability rights.
2) The right-wing is very good at playing divide and conquer with disability rights.
3) We have a lot of actual work to do. This isn’t helping.
I’m the father of a boy with Down syndrome. I spend much of my life trying to make the world a better place for him. In doing so, I find common cause with liberals and conservatives from around the country, as we focus on issues like education, employment, and fighting stigma.
I’d like to be able to continue to find common cause. But …
Here’s the most frustrating thing for me: There is so much to complain about regarding our prenatal testing regime, the way we talk about Down syndrome, stigma against all kinds of people with disabilities, the lack of educational and employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and more. There’s lots of work to do. The best way to get people to choose to carry a fetus with Down syndrome to term is to make the words “Down syndrome” less scary. That’s hard. It’s not politically useful. So instead, we’ve got bills like HB 131 in Ohio.
Right now, people with Down syndrome are shattering our biases. It’s not just high-profile feel-good stories about models, or superficial inspirational stories about prom queens and athletes “allowed” to score goals. Every day, I’m seeing people with Down syndrome learn, work, form relationships, perform service to others, set goals and surpass them, and generally accomplish things that 20 years ago would have seemed impossible.
That’s where our energy should be going. If you want to help people with Down syndrome, don’t politicize their births. Instead, get to work building a more inclusive society.
A few resources I link to in the piece.
- Dr. Brian Skotko on the “overselling” of prenatal testing.
- Mark Leach on false info given to expectant parents.
- Lettercase.org – Here’s where to find accurate information.
- My post on the “faux-information” movement. Attacks by right-wing groups on pro-information movement.
- My essay against inspiration porn.