The abortion coverage gap

Baby1I know this is not a news story, but this column by former Washington Post journalist Patricia E. Bauer is deeply moving and will hopefully -- I say hopefully -- encourage America's mainstream media to explore the damage legal abortions have done to our society. The column by Bauer deals with how abortion has started to weed out children with disabilities. Reading it this morning nearly moved me to tears, and in conversations with friends of mine in the medical profession and parents (I am neither) I have learned even more that makes me think this is a huge story that has gone completely uncovered. Bauer, the mother of Margaret, a Down syndrome child, opens her heart to us and explores the ethics of prenatal testing:

Whenever I am out with Margaret, I'm conscious that she represents a group whose ranks are shrinking because of the wide availability of prenatal testing and abortion. I don't know how many pregnancies are terminated because of prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome, but some studies estimate 80 to 90 percent.

Imagine. As Margaret bounces through life, especially out here in the land of the perfect body, I see the way people look at her: curious, surprised, sometimes wary, occasionally disapproving or alarmed. I know that most women of childbearing age that we may encounter have judged her and her cohort, and have found their lives to be not worth living.

To them, Margaret falls into the category of avoidable human suffering. At best, a tragic mistake. At worst, a living embodiment of the pro-life movement. Less than human. A drain on society. That someone I love is regarded this way is unspeakably painful to me.

In my discussions with parents and those in the medical field I found out that prenatal testing merely gives the likelihood of a disability -- does not prove anything -- and that the test puts the mother at risk for a miscarriage. How many lives have been snuffed out unnecessarily? And what does this tell use about the direction our society is heading? Bauer gives us some context:

In ancient Greece, babies with disabilities were left out in the elements to die. We in America rely on prenatal genetic testing to make our selections in private, but the effect on society is the same.

Margaret's old pediatrician tells me that years ago he used to have a steady stream of patients with Down syndrome. Not anymore. Where did they go, I wonder. On the west side of L.A., they aren't being born anymore, he says.

And what of the emotional impact on women who do choose to abort their baby because the test showed a likelihood of a birth defect or disability? I am told that it is not healthy and has wrecked lives. It's time for the mainstream media to take a serious look at the impact abortion has had on our nation.

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