Down’s Syndrome

May 24, 2006 | 219 comments
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It is wicked to kill an unborn baby because the baby has Down’s Syndrome.

219 Responses to Down’s Syndrome

  1. Adam Greenwood on May 24, 2006 at 7:12 pm

    What prompted this is here:

    http://www.beliefnet.com/blogs/crunchycon/2006/05/downs.html

    Each year you are less likely to meet someone with Down’s Syndrome than you used to. Thanks to the miracles of medicine, we’ve just made the life expectancy for Down’s Syndrome’s kids about -6 months.

  2. Tatiana on May 24, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    I have a friend whose second son has Downs. She was only 33 when she had him, and the doctors did not recommend her to go for an amnio, so they did not know until he was born. He nearly died in his first weeks of life, and had multiple surgeries during his first year to stay alive. I remember at least one open heart surgery.

    When she got pregnant again, she did so only because she knew that she would have an amnio and abort if the baby had Downs. Please don’t say she doesn’t love her Downs boy. She does very much. But the financial, emotional, and energetic resources of her family were stretched to the limit by him. She knew they couldn’t manage with another one. She ended up having a healthy third son. There were no problems with that pregnancy. He is alive because she knew she could abort a Downs pregnancy, if she were to have another one.

    Don’t judge others. You aren’t walking in their shoes. You aren’t the one who gets to say what’s wicked and what isn’t. You aren’t the one who gets to decide when an embryo becomes a human being.

  3. Gunner on May 24, 2006 at 7:40 pm

    No. Even if you decide that it is to much for you to handle for any reason, someone else could.

    No, just No.

  4. Elisabeth on May 24, 2006 at 7:44 pm

    Wow, Adam. That’s rough. I would hope that you would have the tact (decency?!) not to say, to their faces, in real life, that such a couple is wicked. Especially a couple who has just made the extremely difficult and heartwrenching decision to terminate a pregnancy of a child with severe disabilities (as Tatiana describes). Such is the anonymity of the internet. Sigh.

  5. diogenes on May 24, 2006 at 7:45 pm

    Don’t judge others. You aren’t walking in their shoes. You aren’t the one who gets to say what’s wicked and what isn’t. You aren’t the one who gets to decide when an embryo becomes a human being.

    Adam is just thanking the Lord that he is not as other men. Pay him no mind.

  6. Adam Greenwood on May 24, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    I hope I would have the courage, Elisabeth. I do not have the comfort of knowing the people I know with Down’s Syndrome through the anonymity of the internet.

    I don’t know if it will change your judging me, Diogenes, but, no, I don’t take particular pride that I haven’t killed any babies. It’s not my views that matter, its the deaths.

  7. diogenes on May 24, 2006 at 8:39 pm

    I don’t know if it will change your judging me, Diogenes, but, no, I don’t take particular pride that I haven’t killed any babies.

    I was fairly certain that you self-justify your (repeated, frequent) arrogant pronouncements about what is and is not sinful on some basis other than that one. But I appreciate you taking the time to eliminate that particular possibility.

  8. Kaimi Wenger on May 24, 2006 at 8:43 pm

    Hi Adam,

    Provocative post, as always. It’s amazing what the old standbys of abortion and SSM can do.

    You’ll remember, the last post on this topic drew a lot of comments and some interesting discussion. Many of the comments there focused on the interesting question of what is to be done with unwanted, severely disabled Downs children.

    As for the propriety of calling other people wicked — that’s a complicated question, I think.

    First, I would point out to Adam’s critics that his post did not make any direct statements about individuals. He wrote, “It is wicked to kill an unborn baby because the baby has Down’s Syndrome.” That’s a statement of principle, not a statement that John or Jane Doe is a wicked person. It also seems to be a statement that an act is wicked, not that a person or people are wicked. (Though Adam’s follow up isn’t clear on this point).

    To the extent that Adam makes an assertion that specific people are wicked, I’m at least partly sympathetic to the critics. I would hope that we would take care in our labeling for many reasons.

    Such labeling can create divisiveness that creates secondary and tertiary harms. It quite possibly violates a number of direct scriptural injunctions, such as “judge not.” And it may be done incorrectly, as with Job — and we may not know this.

    Finally, it seems to be an arrogation of a role not our own. It is clear that sin exists and that wrong acts exist, and that wicked people exist. Prophets exist as well, and have the stewardship and discernment to make statements. However, as a rank-and-file member myself, I’m hesitant to make assertions about others’ righteousness or lack thereof, partiacularly people I’ve never met and know little about. (Who’s to say that the news report is at all accurate, for instance? No Bishop or Prophet would pronounce someone wicked or unworthy based on thirdhand reports, I think; we should take the same care.)

    It’s a tricky balance, condemning sin where it exists without forgetting to love the sinner. It’s clear that harsh condemnation of sin is appropriate and necessary in some cases. However, such condemnation is best done, I think, within the delineated bounds of our own stewardships.

  9. Elisabeth on May 24, 2006 at 8:46 pm

    Adam – the Church’s position on abortion clearly leaves this decision up to the couple and God. It’s unhelpful and downright cruel to discuss such a sensitive issue in this manner.

  10. Adam Greenwood on May 24, 2006 at 9:09 pm

    Kaimi,
    what’s your position on calling specific persons arrogant, preening, and insensitive?

    Elisabeth,
    No, it doesn’t.

  11. mullingandmusing (m&m) on May 24, 2006 at 9:14 pm

    Elisabeth,
    The Church’s position is a little more direct and specific than that. Consider the following:

    Abortion
    Nowhere is the right of choice defended with more vigor than with abortion. Having chosen to act, and a conception having occurred, it cannot then be unchosen. But there are still choices; always a best one.
    Sometimes the covenant of marriage has been broken; more often none was made. In or out of marriage, abortion is not an individual choice. At a minimum, three lives are involved.
    The scriptures tell us: “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it.� (D&C 59:6; italics added.)
    Except where the wicked crime of incest or rape was involved, or where competent medical authorities certify that the life of the mother is in jeopardy, or that a severely defective fetus cannot survive birth [not that it would be hard to care for a child after birth], abortion is clearly a “thou shalt not.� Even in these very exceptional cases, much sober prayer is required to make the right choice.

    Boyd K. Packer, “Covenants,� Ensign, Nov. 1990, 84

    I can’t imagine the difficulty of being faced with such a challenge as knowing you are expecting a Down’s baby. While we can’t make final judgments about others (to us an Elder Oaks term), we also can’t change the principle surrounding this issue. A wicked act does not necessarily equal a wicked person. But that doesn’t change the principle.

    “There is a difference between what one is and what one does. What one is may deserve unlimited tolerance; what one does, only a measured amount.” (Pres. Packer)

  12. Anita on May 24, 2006 at 9:17 pm

    I agree in concept but want to point out what President Hinckley said, “While we denounce it [abortion], we make allowance in such circumstances as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have serious defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth… In such circumstances, those who face the question are asked to consult with their local ecclesiastical leaders and to pray in great earnestness, receiving a confirmation through prayer before proceeding.” General Conference, Oct 1998.

    I have a sister-in-law whose baby with anencephaly (no brain) was induced into an early delivery at 7 months, knowing there was no chance of survival even though if she’d waited until full term the baby could have lived potentially several weeks. The baby girl lived for forty minutes and was given a name and a blessing. Four years later, my sister-in-law still grieves over and struggles with this situation. I think making decisions/pronouncements without personal experience is challenging.

  13. Kaimi Wenger on May 24, 2006 at 9:18 pm

    Adam,

    I don’t think I’ve done that here, though I suppose reasonable minds could differ. I’ve defended you against certain charges, and I’ve said that if you’ve made certain statements, perhaps you should be careful in doing so. I’ve tried to carefully limit my own critique to certain types of behavior and the potential downsides of such behavior. Perhaps I didn’t limit it enough; in any case, I didn’t mean to say that you are arrogant or preening.

  14. Elisabeth on May 24, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    Since we’re quoting:

    “Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.”

  15. Beijing on May 24, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    It would have been wickedly poetic if commenters had followed Adam’s lead with “it is wicked” statements of their own, a la

    It is wicked to judge those whose shoes you have not walked in.
    It is wicked to condemn sin outside the bounds of one’s own stewardship.
    It is wicked to discuss such a sensitive issue in this manner.

    followed by Adam responding in the form:

    It is wicked to call specific persons arrogant, preening, and insensitive.

    followed by all parties systematically naming all sorts of wickedness, while technically not accusing anyone of it, just sort of making pointedly hinting general announcements to make sure everyone knows what is wicked. Because that’s why people have abortions and judge others and call people arrogant…because they haven’t been told enough times that it is wicked.

  16. Kaimi Wenger on May 24, 2006 at 9:23 pm

    Beijing,

    It is wicked to suggest that other commenters should make “it is wicked” comments.

    I’m just sayin’, since you probably haven’t been told this often enough.

  17. Lynnette on May 24, 2006 at 9:31 pm

    I seriously question whether making absolutist statements like this serves much of a useful purpose; I doubt that most people contemplating an abortion are unaware of the moral complexity of the issue, and lack only a person in their life to tell them how bad it is.

  18. Beijing on May 24, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    It is wicked to neglect to make a joke when someone goes to lots of trouble to set it up. Glad someone must have told you that, Kaimi. #16 is proof of your righteousness.

  19. Adam Greenwood on May 24, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    My apologies, Kaimi. Of course you weren’t calling me arrogant or preening and I didn’t mean to suggest that. I just thought it odd that folks were parsing whether I was judgmental or not for making a statement of general principle, while ignoring specific judgments directed at me.

  20. Kevin Barney on May 24, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    Is it easy to successfully put down’s syndrome children up for adoption? I have no idea; am just asking.

  21. Allison on May 24, 2006 at 10:11 pm

    “Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.�

    So “severe defects that would not allow the baby to survive beyond birth” are the reason that doctors in developed nations issue blanket recommendations to abort babies with Down Syndrome? With medical treatment, people with Down Syndrome commonly reach middle age. My husband and I even know people with Down Syndrome who have been baptized, received their endowment in the temple, served missions, and held paid jobs.

    “Is it easy to successfully put down’s syndrome children up for adoption? I have no idea; am just asking.”

    No stats, just anecdotal evidence, but I know of multiple families who have adopted multiple children who have Down Syndrome. As far as disabilities go, Down Syndrome is relatively easy to deal with.

    My youngest sibling has Down Syndrome. He was a surprise pregnancy when my mother was 40 years old. The doctors encouraged her to be screened for DS and to have amniocentesis done but she refused since she was not willing to risk miscarriage to obtain information which would only be used to pressure her to abort. She and my father knew that they would love, care for, and accept this baby no matter how few or many its “flaws.”

    My brother changed our family for the better. Before he was born, our family consisted solely of high-IQ superachievers. My brother, who has an IQ of 30-60, showed us that worth is not based on accomplishments. Before my brother was born, I was uncomfortable around handicapped people because I was not familiar with their challenges and “abnormal” behavior. After my brother was born, I learned that handicapped people (just like most of us) are to be loved, not feared. And best of all, my brother brought pure, celestial love to our home. He’s the only person in our family whose place in heaven is guaranteed.

    Has my brother had health problems? Yes. He had open heart surgery when he was two months old. He’s on medication for various problems and always will be. He will never progress beyond the level of a 2-3 year old. My parents will never be empty-nesters free to travel the world. Do these problems mean that we should have murdered him to save ourselves the hassle? Absolutely not.

    The lack of value assigned to “imperfect” babies’ lives is shocking. It’s pretty much standard for doctors to encourage pregnant women to have genetic screening done even though over 90% of the positive (positive = higher than normal chance of abnormality) results for the AFP test are FALSE positives, meaning that nothing is wrong with the baby. The next step after a positive screening result is amniocentesis, which carries a 1-2% chance of miscarriage. And Adam’s article pointed out the barbaric next steps after abnormal amniocentesis results.

  22. Seth R. on May 24, 2006 at 10:21 pm

    Adam’s original pronouncements may or may not smack of arrogance. Read one way, they do seem a bit self righteous. Read another way, maybe not.

    However, pride and denial is also highly suspect in the angry responses.

    To use an example from my own life, though not really proportionate at all.

    I saw a gopher get smacked by a car on the road once about ten feet from me. The thing was obviously suffering and crippled. It didn’t have two days chance at living. It was just suffering and pretty much dead already.

    So I walked over and crushed its skull with my work boots.

    Was I justified? Like the farmer of old who shot his horse after it broke a leg, I took life and death into my own hands. I made my own moral equation and took steps.

    But does that mean I’m so cock-sure I was right? Does that mean Adam or anyone else has no right to question what I did? Does it mean I’m not a sinner?

    No, no, and no. I still occasionally question my actions there (if I think about it, which isn’t much). And I have no doubt that I am indeed a sinful man and will be held accountable for that action. Necessity does not wash away our sins.

    Only Christ can do that.

    We are all born into a corrupt world and quickly, we all have the blood of innocents on our own hands.

    So Adam is right.

    You are indeed sinful. So am I. So is Adam. So are the parents who abort a Down’s Syndrome fetus. So are the parents who adopt one. The decision to abort is indeed sinful, no matter how clearly it is justified under our own calculus. No amount of yelling and self-justification can wash away that blood that stains us all.

    Not one of us is justified. Not one of us has a good reason for lashing out in defensiveness and anger at criticism. The only true response is sorrow, remorse and humility.

  23. Diebold on May 24, 2006 at 10:34 pm

    We had a home care nurse who gave birth 20 years ago to a child with no brain, only a brain stem. She struggled with her baby for several days in ICU, until they finally let her die.

    We have friends who had child number 4 suddenly show up with Downs Syndrome. They also struggled through multiple surgeries, and watched her die at 9 months. They had another child, also with downs, and had the courage to have another child, who is “normal.” These people contribute to my courage, and the courage of others in the overwhelming role of parenthood. I met them at a time when I wanted more children, but felt afraid of extreme illness and disability again.

    As with any statement of disproval, there is a flip side of strength. It is wicked to terminate a disabled fetus; it is joyful to keep a pregnancy of a downs syndrome baby, as anyone knows who’s enjoyed being with one. It gives courage to keep a pregnancy of a downs baby. It says, “I value life in all forms,” to keep a baby with downs syndrome.

    It isn’t a question for me, of keeping a baby with disability. It is a privilege.

  24. s on May 24, 2006 at 10:43 pm

    For anyone interested in exploring and reflecting on the complicated ethical issues that surround bearing and raising a child with disabilities, I recommend Life As We Know It: A Father, a Family, and an Exceptional Child by Michael Berube. He’s not writing from a religious perspective, but it’s a book that recognizes the value of disabled individuals while still acknowledging the complexity and difficulty of trying to raise a disabled child in today’s society.

  25. rd on May 24, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    Adam’s statement is, at its essence, true. Murder is wicked. It is against the commandments. And much of society does not believe this and seeks to justify any and all behavior. Adam’s statement does nothing to obviate spirit-confirmed exceptions. I think more pronouncements like this are helpful. I think they make people think.

    We can all imagine–or we all know of special circumstances where people made difficult decisions that may or may have not been justified, or excused. But there are rules–commandments even–and I for one am grateful that our prophet and the Church choose to not vary from those.

  26. Proud Daughter of Eve on May 24, 2006 at 10:53 pm

    Now I may be mixing up my bloggers here but if I remember right, Adam Greenwood is the one with several posts about his little daughter Betsey, the difficulties she had and her eventual loss.

    So when I read this post I did not think “arrogant” or “judgemental.” I thought “pained” and “wounded.”

    And, btw, if it is wicked to point out wickedness then all the prophets from Enoch on down have been very wicked indeed. Some actions are wicked. What a sad, horrible world we’d live in if no one ever judged something as wicked and resisted it. On the other hand, listening to you all come down on Adam, sometimes I think we’re already there.

  27. annegb on May 24, 2006 at 11:19 pm

    The issue is should a Down’s Syndrome child be aborted. I don’t think so, I wouldn’t do it.

    When my son drowned, he was in the water long enough to sustain serious and non-reversable brain damage. I know it’s crazy, but I wanted his body, I loved that small body.

    I have a friend who has a Down’s Syndrome son. I remember when he was born and she spent so much time helping him to develop and sit and stuff, and she said to me once (we’d had babies at the same time, Sarah was normal) “Aren’t you just so grateful for your baby, sometimes I just look at Michael and think what a miracle he is. Don’t you feel that way?”

    I looked at her and agreed, but I really was stunned that she felt that way. He’s twenty and she still does. I’d like to give Princess Buttgold away at the moment. Michael is an angel sent from God.

  28. Adam Greenwood on May 24, 2006 at 11:21 pm

    Some interesting comments and personal experiences here.

    Anita,

    I don’t exactly believe that you have to experience something yourself before you can have an opinion about it, but I understand where you’re coming from. I don’t know if my personal experience qualifies me to have an opinion in your judgment, but here it is, for what its worth: I had a daughter who got an uncurable brain tumor that knocked her out. She had less brain function than a newborn, she couldn’t breathe on her own or anything. One of the medical personnel discreetly offered to kill her for us, though not in so many words–the suggestion was that we terminate the neonatal organism, or something like that. We didn’t, and we ended up having a few happy years before she died. It would have been extremely difficult and heartwrenching to decide to have her killed, and it would have also been wrong. I also know a girl with Down’s Syndrome at church and I love her. I also have a sister with a disability that is not Down’s Syndrome, but it is hard on parents and kids with it are routinely aborted as with Down’s kids, and I love my sister very much too. Anyway, Anita, that’s my personal experience. For what its worth, I understand you sister-in-law having lots of grief and anguish, but I think there are some moral distinctions between doing what she did and abortion procedures, which are more akin to Seth R.’s stomping on the head of the gopher.

    Beijing makes an interesting point. For what its worth, I’ve been planning a post for a few weeks now on the differences between stating a principle and judging someone. Like Kaimi, I concluded that they weren’t the same thing. I also thought about the issue Beijing raises, where in response to a specific instance of behavior one responds with a general judgment on that sort of behavior. My responding in just that way to someone was what got me thinking about the subject–I wanted to justify it as not judgmental because it was just a general statement of principle–but after thinking about I had to conclude that I couldn’t justify it as much as I would have liked. While stating a general judgment in response to a specific instance of behavior is not exactly the same as specifically condemning that person, its pretty close.

    Allison, thanks for pointing out that amniocentesis tests can be imperfect.

    Kaimi, thanks for the link to the previous discussion. I don’t know if it answers Kevin Barney’s question, but since I have the same question, I intend to follow it and find out.

  29. DKL on May 24, 2006 at 11:22 pm

    One of George F. Will’s best essays is one that he wrote about his son Jon for Jon’s 21st birthday (back in 1993). For those of you who don’t know it, George Will’s son Jon has Down Syndrome. His essay, (entitled, “Jon Will’s Aptitudes”) is worth reading for all the usual reasons that Will is usually worth reading. Plus, he has something like a profound insight into Down Syndrom and it’s impact on a person and a family.

    I found a copy of the essay online here. (Don’t let the fact that it’s on a weird web site trip you up–it’s just where I happened to find an online copy.)

  30. obi-wan on May 24, 2006 at 11:25 pm

    if it is wicked to point out wickedness then all the prophets from Enoch on down have been very wicked indeed.

    Perhaps having authority from God, rather than arrogating authority to one’s self, makes a difference.

  31. Wacky Hermit on May 24, 2006 at 11:27 pm

    We don’t know what we are supposed to get out of our trials. I have not had a Down’s syndrome baby, but I’ve had many trials where I did not at the time understand why this came my way until later in life when that piece came into play on the chessboard of God. I’m having a major one now, in fact. We all are.

    It is possible that a couple pregnant with a Downs baby has, as their trial, finding a way to support and love such a child. It is also possible that their trial is to teach them to be able to let go, to know when too much is too much. We don’t know from looking at the outsides of others whether the trial for them was to raise a disabled child, to only be willing to make the sacrifices needed, or to have to abort a pregnancy and learn to live with the consequences. We don’t know when their trial begins and when it ends. We can only express our hope that they have consulted the Father in this matter and He has sent His spirit to witness to them which choice is theirs to make. We can only trust in Christ to exercise His redemptive power that makes all our weakness turn to strength, and turn even our poorest choices to His purposes.

    All other things being equal, it is wicked to abort a child for no other reason than that he or she has Downs Syndrome. Unfortunately, all other things are never equal, and there is seldom only one reason for anything.

  32. Wacky Hermit on May 24, 2006 at 11:30 pm

    I would add to that that we also don’t know what the child’s purpose is here on the Earth. I have known handicapped people who were here because their spirits were already so intelligent that it was crippling their ability to learn to love. They received crippled bodies for the same reason that you patch the good eye of a child with lazy-eye: to exercise their other faculties and restore balance.

  33. Adam Greenwood on May 24, 2006 at 11:34 pm

    Thank you, DKL.

    If I understand you, Obi-wan, you feel that it is wicked for me to have made a moral pronouncement like I did, since I am not the prophet. It seems to me that the only way this can be justified is if you judge that it is wrong to have moral conclusions that are not direct restatements of something a prophet has said at some point. But since to my knowledge no prophet has ever said that it is wrong to have moral conclusions that aren’t direct restatements of something a prophet has said at some point, it would seem to follow that you are arrogating authority to yourself. Thoughts?

  34. Adam Greenwood on May 24, 2006 at 11:37 pm

    Wacky Hermit,
    Almost any choice can be framed as a trial, for good or for evil.

  35. TMD on May 24, 2006 at 11:40 pm

    What makes an act wicked? That is to say, from whence does the wickedness come? Is it in the intention or is it in the effect? Those who criticize Adam seem to sugges that wickedness is determined by the intent of the act, Adam’s position seems to suggest that the wickedness is determined by the effect of the act. Those who favor the former understanding of wickedness and evil might see tragic circumstances, horrible tradeoffs, that can make an act with bad effects at least excusable (but hardly a liberating act or a positive one). So it is the reason that the act was done, rather than the act itself, that is really the source of wickedness; and moreover, wickedness is a characteristic of the person because it is a characteristic of their reasoning, their thought process, their value system. Those who favor the latter would seem to argue that there is nothing that can justify some set of acts, thus making their commission always wicked and requiring, at least, repentence. So there are wicked acts that even good people do; but only if they justify them, only if they continue in them, only if they encourage them on others, can they become wicked people.

    I’m not at all sure that there is sufficient guidance in the scriptures to decide which is truer understanding of wickedness; personally, I would lean toward the latter because it seems more in line with humility, with a recognition that our reasons and our reasonings are human, and thus imperfect and frail; that our perception even of the spirit sometimes affected by selfish desires; and with its openness to seeking the mercy of God rather than the protection of our own reason when we ultimately come before the bar of judgement. Then, too, it does not tend toward the same automatic labeling of people as wick in our human judgements of others when we disagree with their reasonings. So I tend toward Adam’s position.

    That said, I don’t think that anyone can disagree that killing a human because it is viewed as inferior at a utilitarian or hedonic level (which is exactly what we are talking about) is injurious to the very dignity of life, is completely foreign to the values, ethics, morality, to the very core (divine love) of the Gospel. Whether we understand such acts as fundamentally wicked is very much a separate question, with roots in our own philosophies and psychologies.

    That being the case, I think it is useful to understand that the debate being held here is not about the substance of the question, but about this much more difficult underlying philosophical difference. But because of that difference, each side’s statements seem wholly and completely alien.

  36. Adam Greenwood on May 24, 2006 at 11:46 pm

    TMD,

    I don’t know if this is quite the distinction you had in mind, but I’ve argued before that we should distinguish between objective wickedness and subjective wickedness, the second being more dependent on a person’s strength, knowledge, and so on. But I would be inclined to think that killing a Down’s Syndrome baby would usually be both objectively and subjectively blameable.

    http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=2953

    The idea in the scriptures that children and those without the law were not culpable but nonetheless needed the atonement was what first suggested it to me.

  37. TMD on May 25, 2006 at 12:00 am

    I think there’s very much an overlap. I would say that I think that the attributions of others that result from peoples’ subscibing (at least modally) to one or the other are important to consider, as well.

    As to the specific case, I think it’s impossible to say that some act and its associated reasonings would always be considered blameworthy by all people (that is, to say that something would always be subjectively blameable). We might try to argue the tradeoff, but I think that there will always be people who are willing to accept almost any reason, so long as there is a reason, as mitigating of blame. So we can never say ex ante that any act will always be understood as subjectively blameworthy.

  38. Sideshow on May 25, 2006 at 12:01 am

    I think there are two perfectly valid reasons to be repulsed by Adam’s initial statement:

    “It is wicked to kill an unborn baby because the baby has Down’s Syndrome.”

    1) It may not be wicked if the unborn baby is the result of incest or rape, or when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, etc. So I think Adam’s statement is, by the standards of the LDS church, incorrect.

    2) The statement does nothing to address the “human” side of what’s involved, people’s emotions and what they may be going through when in the situation of having a pregnancy which is predicted to result in a baby with Down’s Syndrome. This may be a problem even with true statements — they have nothing to offer except some bit of information which almost everyone knows. If people have inherent worth (and if they don’t, then why is abortion deplorable?), then the statement may be devaluing what it claims to value by not addressing the worth and situation of the people involved in making the decision.

    If Adam’s statement had been, “For all who would consider aborting a fetus with Down’s Syndrome… please don’t. A lot of joy can be brought into your life by having a family member with Down’s Syndrome, although it is also difficult and taxing. If you feel you absolutely cannot handle having a child with Down’s Syndrome, please let him or her be adopted instead — there are many people who would like to adopt a baby with Down’s Syndrome” then we may not have had nearly as much to comment about.

  39. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 12:05 am

    “It may not be wicked if the unborn baby is the result of incest or rape, or when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, etc. So I think Adam’s statement is, by the standards of the LDS church, incorrect.”

    I did not say it was always wicked to kill a baby that had Down’s Syndrome. I said it was wicked to kill the baby because it had Down’s Syndrome.

  40. dangermom on May 25, 2006 at 12:06 am

    I’ve worried about this trend for some time. Down’s syndrome babies are becoming pretty rare. I wonder what this says about us as a society.

    I feel a lot of frustration with people who rationalize aborting Down’s children by saying that it’s kinder to the child and that aborting it was only ending the suffering. I don’t think that’s true, and I would be a bit happier if people just admitted that they were scared to death, rather than pretending that they were doing a good deed.

    I freely admit to some bias on the subject; I lost my first baby to a genetic defect. I was very angry indeed when I was offered a chance to go to a support group for parents who had aborted their children, since all I wanted was my own imperfect baby back.

  41. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 12:08 am

    Hmm, TMD. There may be less overlap then you think, though I’m interested in figuring out the distinction you are making. The distinction I’m making is that certain acts and intents are objectively sinful, but whether the person has subjectively sinned or the degree to which they have subjectively sinned depends in part on the degree of moral agency they have, the kinds of temptations and pressure they are under, the degree to which they have been taught true principles, and so forth.

  42. obi-wan on May 25, 2006 at 12:23 am

    If I understand you, Obi-wan, you feel that it is wicked for me to have made a moral pronouncement like I did, since I am not the prophet. It seems to me that the only way this can be justified is if you judge that it is wrong to have moral conclusions that are not direct restatements of something a prophet has said at some point. But since to my knowledge no prophet has ever said that it is wrong to have moral conclusions that aren’t direct restatements of something a prophet has said at some point, it would seem to follow that you are arrogating authority to yourself. Thoughts?

    My primary thought, aside from being amazed at your ability to derive such series of non sequiturs from my comment to PDoE, is that I am greatly impressed by your talent for stirring up such an astonishing degree of contention with a single fourteen word statement. Particularly given that a slightly different formulation of the same proposition might well have garnered near-universal agreement.

    I wonder where a talent like that comes from?

  43. Sideshow on May 25, 2006 at 12:27 am

    Adam,

    The church says it is okay to have an abortion in four situations (incest, rape, mother health, baby’s ability to live) and does not specify what the motivations must be in those situations, other than that they be prayerfully considered. If you have an official pronouncement that limits the motivations that are permissible in those circumstances, I’d love to hear it.

    In the absence of that, I would not recommend assuming that someone whose health is in serious jeapardy from a pregnancy and who prayerfully decides to abort the fetus because it has Down’s Syndrome has committed a wicked act.

  44. Eric Russell on May 25, 2006 at 12:41 am

    Holy cow, people. This discussion is sad. For all those who are committing the ad hominem fallacy of attacking Adam for expressing his opinion on a moral issue, I have a question: is it unconditionally wrong to make the claim, “X is wicked”? If not, how do we go about deciding what acceptably constitutes X? If so, how do you go about resolving the paradox involved in making the claim that “making the claim that ‘X is wicked’ is wicked”?

  45. diogenes on May 25, 2006 at 1:07 am

    For all those who are committing the ad hominem fallacy of attacking Adam for expressing his opinion on a moral issue, I have a question

    Ad hominem is not necessarily a fallacy.

    Claiming, \”The statement \’It is wicked to kill an unborn baby because the baby has Down’s Syndrome\’ is wrong, because Adam Greenwood said it,\” would be a fallacy.

    But claiming, \”Adam Greenwood said, \’It is wicked to kill an unborn baby because the baby has Down’s Syndrome,\’ due to his self-righteous delusions of grandeur,\” is not a fallacy. It may not necessarily be true, but it is not fallacious.

    Just wanted to clear that up.

  46. DKL on May 25, 2006 at 1:46 am

    Eric Russell, well put. It’s funny to see how morally indigent people get over moral indignation.

  47. DKL on May 25, 2006 at 1:51 am

    Also, for all of these people defending the right to abort based on genetic characteristics, I’d like to know what separates their position on Down syndrome from run-of-the-mill eugenics (besides lack of ambition).

  48. DKL on May 25, 2006 at 2:05 am
  49. Lynnette on May 25, 2006 at 2:42 am

    I think more pronouncements like this are helpful. I think they make people think.

    I find that talking about personal experience (as many on this thread have done) makes people think. Simply making a pronouncement that something is wicked, on the other hand, isn’t likely to have much of an effect on anyone; those who were already in agreement will agree, and those who don’t will just be annoyed, and likely not very open to anything further you might have to say on the matter. If you’re serious about wanting to reduce abortion, it’s perhaps worth thinking about how to discuss the subject in ways that don’t alienate the people you’re hoping will listen.

  50. Elisabeth on May 25, 2006 at 8:20 am

    Moral indignation and condemnation aside, I guess I was shocked that someone would say such a thing to someone. It’s easy to do it online, but to someone’s face? Surely, you can find a more tactful way to express your extreme disapproval.

    Just to clarify – it’s my understanding that Downs Syndrome may cause severe complications resulting in the child not surviving past birth. The Church’s position on abortion clearly addresses this very tragic situation. My brother died a few days after he was born. We never talk about it, but I’m sure my parents would not have aborted the fetus, even had they known of his severe
    disabilities. Either way, this is an extremely sensitive issue – and, as people have already said, framing the issue this way creates unnecessary contention.

  51. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 8:21 am

    “The church says it is okay to have an abortion in four situations (incest, rape, mother health, baby’s ability to live) and does not specify what the motivations must be in those situations, other than that they be prayerfully considered.”

    Liberals who are uncomfortable with church positions on things often assume that they are arbitrary, and presumably other folks do to. I suppose that if one believes the four situations the church lists in which it doesn’t flatly condemn abortion but counsels serious thought and prayer, are arbitrary, it might make sense to countenance abortion under those circumstances for any reason. To keep one’s figure, for instance. But to me, believing as I do that these specific exceptions have reasons behind them, and seeing those reasons closely tied to the family’s *motivation* for having an abortion, I see no particular reason to distinguish the woman who the pregnancy has given serious health complications but is relatively indifferent to them and decides to abort her baby because it has Down’s Syndrome or because she wants to keep her figure, from the woman who doesn’t have serious pregnancy health threats and decides to abort her baby because it has Down’s Syndrom or because she wants to keep her figure.

    Incidentally, this same presumption of mine that people don’t make arbitrary moral statements is why I tried to think of a rationale that could justify Obi-wan and Diogene’s position that it arrogated authority to say ‘X is wicked,’ but it didn’t arrogate authority to say ‘Saying ‘X is wicked’ is wicked.’ I agree that the latter statement isn’t an ad hominem per se, but I’m still trying to see what the non-self-contradictory rationale behind it could be.

    DKL,
    I don’t know if you meant to type ‘indignant’ instead of ‘indigent,’ but if not its one of the happier typing accidents I’ve ever seen.

    Elisabeth, et al.,
    Down’s Syndrome hardly ever threatens the mother’s life, and in the majority of the cases it isn’t certain that the baby can’t make it either. In any case, those would not be circumstances in which the family’s motive was to get rid of a kid with Down’s Syndrome. We let lots fewer Down’s Syndrome kids live these days because people think imperfection is icky and don’t want the extra hassle of a kid that requires special care, that’s it.

  52. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 8:26 am

    I believe it would be helpful if people also posted their thoughts in this thread
    http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=3175
    on my delusions of moral grandeur, judgmentalism, my disapproval of families that fall within the four exceptions killing their babies for other reasons, my failure to lead with personal experiences and to plead instead of making a flat statement of truth, and so on.

    After all, we would hate for moral neophytes to unsuspectingly read this thread
    http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=3175
    and come away thinking I was on to something.

  53. annegb on May 25, 2006 at 8:51 am

    I think the problem here is that we are a group of friends who know each other to be good people. We know Adam’s history and heart. He’s not cruel or unkind.

    There’s another problem, which troubles me from time to time till I spout off and forget and get reminded: there are a lot of other people here. We’re not just spouting off into a great nothing and what we say can have impact.

    If I look at Adam’s opinion in the light of my knowledge of him and his experience, it makes perfect sense. It might be unfair, however, to offer a quick opinion of a complex subject which probably has individual moral implications. We all see through a glass, darkly.

    There are heartbreaking decisions in everyone’s life. This is not a black and white issue. The older I get, the fewer black and white issues there are. Life is dang hard.

  54. Lisa F. on May 25, 2006 at 8:57 am

    Amen to the reading recommendations in #24 and #29. They are excellent. I would also recommend “Differences in Common” by Marilyn Trainer. It is a collection of essays about her son, Ben, who has Down’s Syndrome.

    Our daughter, Eleanor, was born with Down Syndrome. She is a miracle, like all my children. It is hard to express what her life has meant to us — it is one of those unspeakable mysteries, perhaps. In any case, Down Syndrome shifted from my trial list to my blessing list some time after she turned two. She is a great strength to us. And yes, there are battles ahead: How long will she be fully a part of her school community? How will she participate in her community as an adult?

    Sometimes I have looked at my daughter’s face and examined those marks that are common to people with trisomy 21 — the almond-shaped eyes, the flat bridge across the nose, and the “stars in her eyes” that we later discovered were called Brushfield Spots — and I wonder. I try to imagine a scenario where children born with those markings were considered prophets or geniuses. How would we respond to each of these births then? How would we celebrate? And what if, in times to come, we find that these births were essential to saving the rest of us — getting us to pay attention to the things that really matter?

  55. Costanza on May 25, 2006 at 9:13 am

    I have always been a bit puzzled about the morality of saying it is ok to kill a baby that, through no fault of its own, was conceived via the brutality of rape or incest.

  56. Elisabeth on May 25, 2006 at 9:28 am

    Well, at the very least, I would suggest that this post violates the Times and Seasons’ comment policy:

    “3. On the flip side, it is also unacceptable to call into question a commenter’s personal righteousness.”

    Certainly we may quibble on the details – as to whether or not Adam is _really_ questioning someone’s personal righteousness – but it certainly sounds like that to me. And I think I’m dangerously close to violating this directive myself – which is the problem with this antagonistic, contentious post in the first place.

  57. Proud Daughter of Eve on May 25, 2006 at 10:12 am

    “…this antagonistic, contentious post in the first place. ”

    Now it’s being antagonistic and contentious to venture a judgement call on something. Lucky for you you aren’t married to Enoch or Jonah.

    Seriously, what is going on here? First the liberal-minded on the ‘Nacle are all “we don’t have to follow the prophet blindly” and then when someone condems a practice they all shout “What hubris! You don’t have the authority to do that!”

    We have agency to make judgement calls and to choose the right. Not to bend over backward trying not to offend people. We shouldn’t go out of our way to offend people but neither should we be more concerned with apperances than truth. The truth is, it IS wicked to kill. It’s one of the ten commandments. God feels so strongly about this we have it THREE times; in the Bible, in the Book of Mormon and in Docterine and Covenants. In D&C, God was obviously anticipating our times because he added “…nor do anything like unto it.” God’s position is clear on this. Argue the other sides as much as you like, but I will follow His word every time.

  58. Maren on May 25, 2006 at 10:33 am

    In my profession, I work with people with all sorts of disabilities. I have done so for 10 years. I first want to say that I have the most respect for parents of children with disabilities. It is a difficult and time consuming job. However, there are resources available out there. So many, in fact, that most parent’s don’t even know where to begin. These resources (schooling, respite care, financial aid, etc) are availble to help make the parent’s job easier.
    My problem with this post here is the fear people have with a diagnosis of Down Syndrome. Of all the disabilities, a child with Down Syndrome would be in my mind one of the easier disabilities to deal with. Most children with Down Syndrome (I know and have seen exceptions) can be potty trained. Many can learn to read. Many can get jobs, some even go to college, etc etc. They can communicate their feelings, needs, and wants. Compare that to any number of other disabilities where children cannot walk, talk, or communicate in any way. Children who wear diapers until they are adults, and become too heavy for the parents to lift them. Parent’s whose backs give out from the constant care needed for their children. Children whose seizures are so severe that every time they have one the parent wonders if this is the one that will kill their child. Children who can walk, but cannot communicate, so they can and do run out of the house consistantly, with the parents worried for their lives at every moment. Children whose minds are so deep in their own world that parents can never truly tell what is wrong. Children whose minds never pass that of the “terrible twos” though their bodies grow to 20, 30, 40. Imagine a fully developed 20′s male getting angry because he can’t have a treat at the store, so he promptly removes his clothes and runs naked around the store, screaming and kicking. It happens. Most of these families love their children, and are grateful for the chance to have them in their family. I remember going with a woman to the hospital to identify her 18 year old son who had died because of a seizure. This young man never spoke. Her mourning was genuine. She loved and knew the heart of that son, perhaps in a way that none of us know are children, because we do not have to consistantly care for them all their lives.
    I do not judge anyones decision in regards to their family life. But I do thing it is a sad commentary on society that we can decide who is worthy of life and who is not. It is not for us to say that a child with a disability is a mistake. I believe that the world will be a sad place if all children with disabilities are eliminated before birth. I consider myself priviledged to work with such people, and find I can learn as much from them as from any expert or genuis. I realize the decision is personal, and if a family feels they cannot care for a child, so be it. I wish there was access to more education about disabilities out there. The fear would not be so great if families knew there were places they could turn to for help. Down Syndrome children can and do grow up to be productive members of society.

  59. Seth R. on May 25, 2006 at 10:38 am

    Thanks Maren,

    That’s a very nice comment.

  60. Elisabeth on May 25, 2006 at 11:18 am

    Isn’t there a box we can check off for – “I agree with the general point Adam is making that we should value human life even given all its imperfections, but wholly disagree with his tone and approach”?

  61. Bookslinger on May 25, 2006 at 11:19 am

    Elisabeth wrote: ” the Church’s position on abortion clearly leaves this decision up to the couple and God.”

    Not really. Aborting a fetus solely because the fetus has Down’s Syndrome does not fall into one of the four allowable exceptions for abortion outlined by the Brethren. Down’s Syndrome alone does not endanger the life/health of the mother, nor does it significantly impact the survivability of the fetus or newborn baby, such as anencephaly would.

    I’ve been online for 20 years now. (Since back when we had amateur Bulletin Board Systems, such as Fidonet, prior to the Internet going public). The one constant is how partisans of any particular topic (especially the hot-button topics) will mis-read misconstrue, and misrepresent the statements of those with whom they disagree. Elisabeth and others have done that here with Adam’s statement on aborting Down’s babies.

    Adam’s next post, and the comments attached to it, show how opening the door of “abortion for the sake of convenience” leads to other things that have huge societal and geo-political consequences.

  62. Elisabeth on May 25, 2006 at 11:25 am

    Bookslinger – please refer to my comment #50. There is certainly a line to be drawn between abortion for convenience and abortion because of health issues – and the Church allows only for the latter. Remember, these are difficult decisions made upon quiet deliberation between the couple and God – AFTER given information from a competent medical authority that the baby is in severe distress. Since none of us commenting here are the couple, a competent medical authority, or God, I think we must be deliberative and respectful when discussing this issue – regardless of our personal views on the matter.

  63. Rosalynde Welch on May 25, 2006 at 11:27 am

    It’s interesting that, in this discussion and many others, most of the women who support Adam’s position cite personal experiences with disabled individuals, and all of the women who oppose Adam’s position do so in order to preserve the feelings of parents. This seems to corroborate Carol Gilligan’s thesis that women tend to reject rigid moral codes, and instead construct moral judgments narratively, as personal experiences or hypthetical experiences, in order to preserve social relations. (Yes, I was reminded of this by a letter in this week’s New Yorker, and skip the rant about that publication, DKL.) And, frankly, it dismays me. Elisabeth and Lynnette and others: it’s nice to be nice, and tact with tender feelings is important, but isn’t it somewhat *less* important than the possibility that other individuals may be losing their lives unjustly? It seems to me that your objection—”if we talk about this, people will get their feelings hurt”—effectively stifles serious moral discussion about the most pressing issues, all of which will hurt some people’s feelings. I honestly don’t know whether Adam is right or wrong, but I’d like to find out. And the way to do that is through serious, sustained moral reasoning, not, I’m afraid, through narrative. (Narrative has its function, and an important one—but it’s not philosphy, or shouldn’t be.)

  64. Elisabeth on May 25, 2006 at 11:36 am

    Rosalynde, and others – Adam’s tone and approach – specifically that he would tell a woman to her face that she was “wicked” – is a metaissue here, but an important one. I’ve already said I generally agree with his point. If Adam would have framed this question as Sideshow in comment #38 demonstrates, I think this could have been a valuable discussion. As it is, over half of the comments here are distracting from the issue of how we can better understand and accept Downs syndrome and other disabilities in modern society. That said, I’m not sure that this _was_ the issue – Adam certainly didn’t mention any of this in his original post – and I’m bit lost as to what the issue is – that we _should_ go around calling people wicked?

  65. Nate Oman on May 25, 2006 at 11:39 am

    “It seems to me that your objection—â€?if we talk about this, people will get their feelings hurtâ€?—effectively stifles serious moral discussion about the most pressing issues, all of which will hurt some people’s feelings. I honestly don’t know whether Adam is right or wrong, but I’d like to find out. And the way to do that is through serious, sustained moral reasoning, not, I’m afraid, through narrative. (Narrative has its function, and an important one—but it’s not philosphy, or shouldn’t be.)”

    Amen and amen!!

  66. Elisabeth on May 25, 2006 at 11:44 am

    It’s not just about being *nice* so as to not hurt people’s feelings. It’s about encouraging compassionate discourse around a very sensitive issue. Calling someone “wicked” is not the way to do that.

  67. Nate Oman on May 25, 2006 at 11:52 am

    Elisabeth: It seems to me that there are two ways of understanding Adam’s initial statement. You can understand it as (a) making a claim about moral reality, or you can understand it as (b) modeling a way of talking to those who abort children with Down Syndrome. As for his claim that he would “say this to a woman’s face,” I don’t take this to be an endorsement of giving strident jeremiads in casual conversation, but rather that he hopes he would not lie to someone about his own moral conclusions for the sake of social niceties. I do think that Rosalynde is entirely correct in pointing out that the insistence discussing Adam as making a statement of kind (b) rather than a statement of kind (a) leads to all manner of obfuscating story telling that does little to clarify or persuade. The ability to emote is not the same thing as the ability to make correct moral judgments.

  68. Rosalynde Welch on May 25, 2006 at 11:53 am

    Elisabeth, thanks for responding. The restatement in #38 is certainly softer—although I have no doubt it would have generated bitter rejoinders, as well—but it approaches the issue through persuasion (that is, rhetoric) rather than through moral reasoning, so it doesn’t accomplish the kind of ideological work that Adam is interested in. My assessment of Adam’s tone and approach is totally different than yours (that he would tell a woman to her face that she was “wickedâ€?) : I understood him to be positing a sort of moral theorem, and inviting proofs of that theorem (although in a non-technical idiom, I assume). I don’t know whether that sort of moral reasoning would be helpful or unhelpful for parents struggling in the situation (although, if the reasoning was widely accepted, it would probably inform their decision intuitively)—-but there’s value, a lot of it, in pursuing serious moral thought independently.

  69. Rosalynde Welch on May 25, 2006 at 11:54 am

    Hmm, Nate and I seem to have made very similar comments at the same time. Sorry, Elisabeth, I don’t mean to pile on.

  70. Nate Oman on May 25, 2006 at 11:57 am

    A short version of my last post: Adam makes a statement about morality. Everyone assumes that he is making a statement about rhetoric. This is a mistaken assumption.

  71. Nate Oman on May 25, 2006 at 11:59 am

    Ooops. I missed RW’s other comments. Sorry for the pile on as well. (Of course, I still think that you deserve it ;->)

  72. bbell on May 25, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    Amongst the LDS that I live and interact with Adam’s comments that aborting a Downs baby is wicked would raise no eyebrows cause everybody would be nodding there heads and wondering what is wrong with the world that engages in such barbaric behavior

    I find it amazing that mainstream LDS thought is considered controversial here at T&S.

    I get the feeling that the only thing that many of Adams antagonist’s feel is wicked would be being opposed to abortion rights or any other secular principle in direct opposition to Modern Prophets or speaking out on moral issues in opposition to the secular gospel.

    That being said I personally agree that aborting a Downs baby because it had downs is immoral and wicked

  73. Lynnette on May 25, 2006 at 12:01 pm

    Elisabeth and Lynnette and others: it’s nice to be nice, and tact with tender feelings is important, but isn’t it somewhat *less* important than the possibility that other individuals may be losing their lives unjustly?

    But if the overriding concern is that people might be losing their lives unjustly (a serious concern, I agree), shouldn’t the overriding aim of conversations like this be to find ways to stop that from happening? And if your approach and tone are getting in the way of what you’re hoping to achieve, I’d say that it’s quite legitimate to ask about how those things could be more effective–because if the people who are making decisions about those lives can’t hear what you have to say because of the way you’re saying it, you’re not actually accomplishing much. Like Elisabeth, I don’t dispute the general point, or even the importance of making it, but I do question the helpfulness of framing it this way.

  74. Bookslinger on May 25, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    Elisabeth: As I understand the position of most Christian-believing medical authorities, Down’s syndrome alone does not qualify for “a baby being in severe distress.” Anencephaly does, but not Down’s.

    I believe you will have a hard time finding a competent medical authority, who is in good standing with the LDS church, promote or agree with the idea that Down’s is “severe distress” or jeopardizes the life/health of the mother, or severely affects the survivability of the fetus or newborn.

    Nor does a doctor have to be a believer of one of the more extreme fundamentalist type churches in order to believe that Down’s doesn’t justify abortion. As I understand it, there are many devout Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, etc, doctors who would counsel that there is no medical justification in aborting a fetus with Down’s.

    If your family doctor or ob-gyn is LDS, perhaps you could find out his/her opinion on whether Down’s Syndrome would fall under one of the church’s exceptions for abortion, and then report back to this thread.

    If you are in Utah, perhaps you could check with an LDS chaplain or family counselor at your local hospital to see what kind of counsel he/she would give a couple that was expecting a child with Down’s Syndrome. Call them up, and explain that you’re doing research for a discussion group.

    And I’ll ask some of the LDS physicians that I know.

  75. Kaimi Wenger on May 25, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    All:

    Perhaps we can agree on two points:

    First, that there are better and worse ways to make certain arguments, and that the acceptability of an argument can be undercut though an unnecessarily hurtful presentation. As commentators have written, compassionate discourse should be the norm.

    (I think that a related but unstated factor is the history between Adam and some longtime commenters. Past threads have also raised the question of sensitivity — with more valid examples, I think. That history informs commenter perceptions on whether Adam’s current thread is inappropriate. For my money, there’s nothing about the one-sentence post itself that crosses any lines.)

    Second, whatever Adam’s error may have been as far as presentation of his argument (and I take no position on the merits), he has been sufficiently thrashed for it. Five dozen comments have sprung up in a day, most of them talking about whether Adam said things right. That’s undoubtedly enough on that topic. It’s a side issue, and not nearly as interesting as the underlying question in the post.

    Third, that there are lots of legitimate issues relating to the subject (not presentation) of Adam’s post — let’s talk about those.

    (I’ll do that in a follow up).

  76. Eve on May 25, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    Rosalynde, as I read Elisabeth and Lynnette, they’re not saying “if we talk about this, people will get their feelings hurt” but rather, perhaps, “if we talk about this _in this way_, people will get their feelings hurt.” In theory anyway, I don’t see why we can’t have “a serious moral discussion about the most pressing issues” with sensitivity and tact. In fact, shouldn’t serious moral discussion, by its very nature, require sensitivity and tact? I realize that too often it doesn’t play out that way on issues like abortion, but it seems particularly wrong to use deep moral significance as an excuse to be unkind to someone (which is part of what I profoundly mistrust about both the pro-life and the pro-choice movements). Of course it’s important to reason carefully and well about matters of life and death, just as it’s important to reason carefully and well about matters of faith. But the methods of persuasion we undertake as part of our reasoning together and the ways we treat others who come to different conclusions are also a moral issue. And they’re often the more immediate and more difficult issue. It’s relatively easy to defend a moral position against all perceived attackers; the real moral challenge, as I see it, is to engage in honest, thoughtful, sensitive mutual inquiry with others who disagree. As Latter-day Saints, we believe that the ordinances available through the Church are vital to our eternal welfare, and that making those covenants and living by them is the most important thing we can do in life or death. But the moral weight of that belief doesn’t authorize us to force the gospel on anyone or to be unkind to anyone in its name. The same, I think, should be true of our discussions on issues like abortion.

    I’m also surprised by your dichotomy between “serious, sustained moral reasoning” and narrative. Isn’t “sustained moral reasoning” a kind of narrative, and isn’t narrative a kind of moral reasoning? Our scriptures are largely narrative, and as a faith community we rightly consider them to have deep moral significance.

  77. Lynnette on May 25, 2006 at 12:16 pm

    I didn’t see the last couple of comments before my response; I do think I may have interpreted the context of the original statement differently than it was intended. (I don’t know that I’m convinced that abstract moral reasoning, detached from the concrete situations of actual people, is necessarily a superior form of moral discourse, but that’s a discussion for another day.) Thanks for the clarifications about how the statement was meant to be taken; I found them helpful.

  78. Melissa Proctor on May 25, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    Rosalynde,

    I agree that this sort of question must be pursued through serious sustained moral reasoning. No one has suggested that narrative should trump philosophy. Adam’s post, however, doesn’t represent “philosophy.” Your reading of him is beyond charitable. He may have been attempting to posit a moral theorem and inviting proofs, but that is not what the post actually does. There is no careful moral reasoning on display in his original post. It is a nothing more than a pronouncement. Without any explanation about how he arrived at this position and some demonstration that he has entertained at least the obvious objections to it, the declaration as it stands appears to be an arrogant and unreflective judgment.

  79. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    Lynnette,

    I often find that tactical disagreements about how a message is presented are often covers for substantive disagreements about the message itself. I do not know if that is true in your case, though I note you haven’t expressed an opinion yourself. And Elisabeth, who has been most active in criticizing my tone, does disagree with me on the substance. Neither of you have taken me to task for my tone on the thread about not aborting baby girls because they’re girls; one possible explanation is that you agree with me on that one and therefore find the tone less objectionable.

    But let us suppose that are disagreements are purely about tactics. While I think that some people who are contemplating killing their Down’s Syndrome child can be reached by moral clarity who couldn’t be reached by gentle persuasion, I think you are correct that in the majority of cases gentle persuasion is more effective. But reaching people who are currently contemplating killing their Down’s Syndrome child is only one goal. I have others. I am partly just interested in the reasons people offer about why its wicked to kill a Down’s Syndrome child, or why people think it isn’t. I am also interested in preventing future deaths, not just current ones. Moral clarity now accomplishes that now, in my opinion, by making the idea of killing a Down’s Syndrome child so obviously wrong that it becomes unthinkable. When medical personnel offered to kill our daughter for us, for example, no gentle persuasion from a good angel was needed because we rejected the idea without thinking about it.

  80. Eve on May 25, 2006 at 12:20 pm

    Nate said,

    The ability to emote is not the same thing as the ability to make correct moral judgments

    Maybe not. Moral judgments do consist of significantly more than emotion. But the ability to emote is, I think, required to make correct moral judgments.

  81. Sideshow on May 25, 2006 at 12:28 pm

    I did leave out the moral reasoning in my suggestion in #38, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be added:

    “I believe that aborting an unborn child is morally wrong, even if that child has Down’s Syndrome.”

    I’m not sure this is correct, but I believe people’s thoughts, words, and actions will be judged in some context (although it’s useful to examine them out of context for some purposes), and am suggesting that Adam’s statement 1) implies divine judgement by using the term ‘wicked’ and 2) leaves out context that may be significant in terms of such judgement. I think the narrative is useful in that it provides some context; moral reasoning would not exist without reference to actions, which are narrative to some extent.

    Rosalynde, you are correct in labeling my re-statement “persuasion” — I think the best way to influence people is through persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, kindness, and pure knowledge.

  82. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 12:29 pm

    Eve,
    I think I agree.

    Wacky Hermit,
    Another thought. The Church does not say that every one who has a baby as a result of rape or incest or what not has a duty to pray about keeping the child. To my knowledge, its perfectly OK just to keep the kid alive without putting a whole lot of thought or reflection into it. Its only if you are inclined to kill the kid that the Church requires prayer and reflection. And whether or not this is what the Church intended, this is actually what happens. So it doesn’t make much sense to me to speak of people having the trial of God telling them not to keep their kid when they want to. Rarely does anyone go to God about keeping their kid if they plan on keeping it.

    Melissa P.,
    Why is it wrong for me to say ‘killing girl babies and babies with Down’s Syndrome is wrong’?

  83. Kaimi Wenger on May 25, 2006 at 12:32 pm

    Okay, now for the promised substance.

    I think that nearly everyone — liberal, conservative, in-between — agrees that “eugenics” is wrong (though that term is often thrown about loosely defined). Attempts to create a more perfect race for the purposes of creating a master race are bad.

    And yet, if abortion is freely accessible and medical information about the fetus is available, then each individual family may make choices which, when aggregated, start to look like eugenics.

    Or, to put it another way, no one wants _society_ to be focusing on the creation of a master race of perfect kids. But each individual family wants their own kids — and themselves, as parents — to be subject to as few disadvantages as possible. These decisions, when added up, create societal trends.

    A societal trend towards aborting Downs babies suggests all sorts of problems. It suggests that human perfection is commodifiable and that some people are more valuable than others — and specifically, that disabled people are less valuable than the rest of us. It also undercuts the likelihood of social support for Downs babies who _are_ born — as Downs becomes less and less prevalent through abortion, Downs children are more likely to be misunderstood by other kids who have had less likely exposure to them.

    Those are terrible messages to send. Society sends those messages through a social trend towards aborting Downs babies.

    And yes, every individual who makes such a decision sends a message, one way or the other. This is the terrible reality. It is easy to make statements in the abstract; much harder to apply them to our own lives when that application brings with it real costs. Does a parent abort a disabled baby, saving herself from some measure of personal anguish, but also supporting — however incrementally — the societal movement towards terrible ideas on human perfection and equality?

  84. Nate Oman on May 25, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    “It’s relatively easy to defend a moral position against all perceived attackers; the real moral challenge, as I see it, is to engage in honest, thoughtful, sensitive mutual inquiry with others who disagree.”

    Eve: Isn’t the best way of doing this to charitably charactize the statements of those with whom one disagrees and then offer reasons for why one thinks they are mistaken? In other words, by making arguments rather than telling stories. The problem with something like Tatiania’s initial story is that by appealling to the personal and the particular it shuts down appeals to the abstract and the impersonal, yet without impersonal abstraction it is very difficult to figure out how we are supposed to evaluate and make judgments. Which, of course, was precisely Tatiania’s point. She wanted to show that we can’t make judgments. The problem is that it is not really coherent to think this way for very long. Ultimately, we can’t avoid the problem of evaluating and reaching conclusions, at which point we want to be able to offer reasons for our conclusions rather than simply historical accounts of how they germinated from particular stories.

    This does, as you point out, pose a huge problem for the scriptures. However, I think that the conclusion that we should draw from this is that God is not an ethicist. (At least not when dictating scripture.) It hardly follows from this, however, that we ought to abandon reason-giving in favor of story telling when confronted with problems where the stories leave us with only confusion.

  85. Nate Oman on May 25, 2006 at 12:37 pm

    Sideshow: Why should I assume that the point of all discussions is persuasion? Sometimes I don’t really care what your beliefs are going to be like at the end of the discussion. I am more interested in figuring out the relationships between concepts and the sorts of inferences that I can draw from. In other words, not all arguments are rhetorical. Some arguments really are about trying to make sense of the world for its own sake.

  86. Rosalynde Welch on May 25, 2006 at 12:39 pm

    I’ve sowed where I can’t reap, I’m sorry. I’m nursing the baby and can’t respond to those who addressed me. I’m not ignoring you, I promise!

  87. Lynnette on May 25, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    Neither of you have taken me to task for my tone on the thread about not aborting baby girls because they’re girls; one possible explanation is that you agree with me on that one and therefore find the tone less objectionable.

    Another explanation is that I find it simpler to keep my arguments on a single thread. ;) For the record, I find it as theoretically problematic to abort a child based on gender as to abort a child based on the presence of Down’s Syndrome. I’m nonetheless reluctant to make absolute moral statements on the subject, given the complexity of individual circumstances.

    Thanks for clarifying your intent; your comments make a bit more sense to me now.

  88. Melissa Proctor on May 25, 2006 at 12:45 pm

    Adam,

    I didn’t say it was wrong. I said it wasn’t philosophy. If you’re trying to offer an argument for why an action is wicked then you must offer reasons. You offered none. You call this “moral clarity” but such a statement might just as easily be parrotted dogma if it is unaccompanied by reasons. Reason-giving matters if what you want to achieve and evidence is “moral clarity,” even if this particular case might seem obvious to you. If one uses your formula “It is wicked to . . .” and fills in any number of other behaviors (i.e. “use birth control,” “marry outside the church,” “use day care” etc. etc. . . examples might be multiplied here) one sees rather quickly that this statement does nothing than express an opinion. It does not qualify as careful moral reasoning in and of itself.

    When I wrote my first comment I hadn’t seen your second post though so I suppose that your second post could be considered a form of reason-giving inasmuch as you are drawing a comparison to a practice you assume we would all agree is barbaric.

  89. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 12:47 pm

    It could also be, Melissa P., that for the reasons you’ve advanced here, my second post is also arrogant and unreflective and fails to acheive moral clarity.

  90. Eve on May 25, 2006 at 1:02 pm

    Nate,

    Hmmm. It looks as though, as usual, I didn’t explain myself very well, or maybe just not very thoroughly. I’m not in favor of “abandon[ing] reason-giving in favor of story telling” or of “shut[ting] down appeals to the abstract and impersonal”–I just think that reason-giving isn’t the only way to broaden our understanding. You note that in discussions like this one, stories are often used to show that we can’t make judgments. But that conclusion doesn’t necessarily follow from what she says, and it’s far from the only conclusion that could be drawn. (Tatiana, if you’re still here–I do definitely agree with you insofar as you’re calling for suspension of judgment of individual people.) It looks to me as if what you’re objecting to about Tatiana’s and others’ stories isn’t the stories themselves, it’s the conclusions that often follows from them. So–as I understand you–what you’re actually objecting to is what you see as faulty reasoning, not narrative itself.

    Trying to think through this a little more, I’m realizing that I think stories and narratives are indespensible to abstract, impersonal thought in part because they are what we reason _about_. (For example, part of what Adam seems to be reasoning about is his own experience with his daughter, and the millions of cases he understands, through abstract reasoning, moral imagination, and compassion, as similar to that experience in important ways.) Personal, embodied, specific experience and the creation of narratives about that experience is where we live and move and have our being. Abstract reasoning about our human lives is a fabulous tool, but I tend to see it as always ultimately in the service of the personal. Even in ethics classes, we illustrate our points with analogies, and we reason about examples.

    So maybe God _is_ an ethicist in those long narrative passages, just not an abstract one.

  91. Melissa Proctor on May 25, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    “It could also be, Melissa P., that for the reasons you’ve advanced here, my second post is also arrogant and unreflective and fails to acheive moral clarity. ”

    Yes, absolutely. I was simply acknowledging that some might take your second post to be an initial premise (although you didn’t present it that way, I was giving you the benefit of the doubt that it might function in some way as the commencement of “reason-giving”) of an argument that could lead to the conclusion in your first post.

    My quibble was really with RW’s description of your post since I don’t consider your presentation to represent philosophy or serious moral inquiry in any sense.

    *I’ve already overspent my blogging time today so I’ll have to return to this tomorrow if it’s still relevant.

  92. Nate Oman on May 25, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    Eve: I agree with you to a certain extent. I do think that there is an important sense in which we use abstraction to think about stories, ie that narrative is the datum of abstraction. I certainly have not objection to introducing stories to think about a problem or illustrate a point. Not all reasoning needs to read like Kant, and Kant’s utter aversion to narrative probably obfuscates as much as anything. (Although I increasely think that it simply is not possible to write philosophy in German without obfuscating.) I do, however, believe that there is an insidious, deeply anti-intellectual way of using personal stories. Here we relate a story as a way of shutting down discussion because the point of the story is to show that one’s beliefs are justified by experiences to which others do not have access. This isn’t necessarily wrong. Sometimes we should be anti-intellectual. For example, testimony meetings are deeply anti-intellectual in this sense as they are frequently a celebration of an appeal to non-publically available experience. Yet, it is striking that we have different expectations about testimony meetings. They are not an exercise in reason-giving. Rather, it seems to me that they have basically two functions. First, to facilitate others in having their own, non-publically available experiences, ie to feel the spirit. Second, to excite desire, ie if that person had a great experience seeking God in the Book of Mormon, maybe I should try it.

  93. bbell on May 25, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    Hi,

    Melissa P is setting up the old straw man argument trying to draw in BC or temple marriage. Lets keep this focused on is it wicked to abort a Downs Child? What does this say about us as a society? I think that Adam serves as a proxy for all the frustrations that by all the more liberal minded T&C commentators feel towards our conservative church. He represents the iron rodders that they are exposed to so much on Sunday

    I do like Kaimi’s comments. Its individual actions adding up to create a trend. I do think though that you will find more support for aborting Downs Kids amongst liberals than you will amongst conservatives.

    I am not sure that Eugenics is dead in personal lives. In private many abortion rights supporters will tell you that there are many children that should not have been born. There are usually race overtones to these types of comments. Lets not forget the eugenic Neo-Nazi leanings of the founder of Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger

  94. Melissa Proctor on May 25, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    One more thing (having to retract is what I get for blogging in such a hurry, I guess).

    The statements aren’t actually parallel inasmuch as one of them is controversial (for your audience) and one of them is not (for your audience) and thus don’t require the same sort of reason-giving as stand alone statements. Neither of them function as an argument by themselves, however.

  95. annegb on May 25, 2006 at 1:35 pm

    bbell: mainstream LDS thought is often wrong and silly. I hear a lot of talk in Sunday School with people sitting like sheep blindly nodding to the idea that the black man is inferior, among many other things.

    #85 Nate: good point

  96. annegb on May 25, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    Adam, wicked and wrong have very different connotations. Although I don’t necessarily disagree with your premise, perhaps your wording just bugged people.

  97. Starfoxy on May 25, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    I really like Seth R’s point in #22. It’s still wrong and sinful even if it is the best choice. Thanks for sharing that.
    And just to share, I know a woman and all three of her children have down’s. My mom was her YW leader, and as a YW she expressed that if someone had to have down’s babies then it should be her, because she felt she could give them the love that they need. I’m not sure if it’s a miracle or a tragedy. Probably both.

  98. Keryn on May 25, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    Kaimi said: “…as Downs becomes less and less prevalent through abortion, Downs children are more likely to be misunderstood by other kids who have had less likely exposure to them.”

    I would add that I believe that society would also begin to look down on parents who choose not to abort a Downs child–as in “they made their choice. I shouldn’t have to fund programs that help them with a problem they could have “fixed” before now.”

  99. Elisabeth on May 25, 2006 at 1:54 pm

    “And Elisabeth, who has been most active in criticizing my tone, does disagree with me on the substance. Neither of you have taken me to task for my tone on the thread about not aborting baby girls because they’re girls…”

    Adam – please read my comment #3 (which you responded to) on your second abortion post. (and thanks for spelling my name correctly, btw.)

    Surprisingly, sometimes these threads are actually useful. Matt Evans (where is Matt these days?) sent me an article last year after a similarly bruising round on the abortion debate that I found very helpful. Thanks again, Matt.

    On the other hand, pardon the melodrama (and the hypocrisy and the lecturing tone), this kind of polarizing discourse wherein we demonize the “other� as “wicked� is extremely dangerous. We have a responsibility to refrain from using this language in public (and private) discourse, and instead use words of compassion and love for those who suffer (or at the very least explain carefully why such harsh language is appropriate). I feel very strongly about that.

    As for moralizing and doing “ideological work� that Nate and Rosalynde refer to, I guess I didn’t see much work to be done after reading Adam’s original post. He simply made an explosive, final statement and then walked away to witness (and mediate) the fallout.

  100. JA Benson on May 25, 2006 at 1:57 pm

    Thank you # 58 Maren that was a lovely post. I do not have the answer on adoption in regards to a Down’s child, but I recently saw a Down’s toddler from Vietnam who was adopted. From what I have seen in the adoption community there are families who are willling to take handicapped children.

  101. Nate Oman on May 25, 2006 at 2:03 pm

    Elisabeth: Fair enough. Here is my response. Pardon the melodrama (and the hypocrisy and the lecturing tone), this kind of retreat from reason into narrative wherein we valorize the personal and particular to the exclusion of the abstract and impresonal, demonizing other forms of discourse as divisive and dangerous ultimately undermines our ability to have reasoned discussion, which can only lead to a new dark age made more terrible by the twisted genius of a perverted science. IOW, this is not a blog thread. The future of civilization as we know it hangs in the balance here.

  102. Elisabeth on May 25, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    LOL! Awesome, Nate :)

  103. Eve on May 25, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    Nate, I hadn’t really thought about the ways stories can function to shut down abstract discourse, but now that you point it out, I think I see what you mean. It sounds to me as if we agree more than we disagree.

    But is feeling the spirit always a private, non-publically available experience? It seems to me that testimony meeting is (in addition to the purposes you mention) an opportunity to share experiences with the spirit, to rejoice in those experiences and in the spirit together, and that while inaccessibly private spiritual experience can’t constitute a publicly accessible _reason_ for someone else to believe, all of our spiritual experiences ultimately draw us toward community.

    Although I’m a poor storyteller myself and could never write fiction, I’m riveted by stories, by the kinds of daily storytelling we all do as part of the fabric of our self-constitution and our relationships (like swapping narratives with our spouses at the end of the day about what happened). For that reason I may have missed the shutting-down-the-conversation conclusions that you point out sometimes end such stories. I tend to be scanning the stories themselves because I’m so interested in them. Maybe it’s just that constant, fascinating mystery of what other people experience, how they think about their experiences, how they live, what it feels like to be in their skin, what the textures of their lives are. I can’t get enough, maybe because I often find other people’s stories about their experiences the best way to understand my own.

    If I’m reading your comment right, it sounds as if you may be assuming that reason-giving is the only truly public form of discourse. I think storytelling and the sharing of experiences are also valid forms of public discourse–and that storytelling and reason-giving are usually profoundly intertwined, as they seem to be on this thread. (Certainly that intertwining is sometimes problematic, as you rightly point out.) I’m also not sure that I’d characterize giving testimony or sharing experience as anti-intellectual. Such forms of discourse have their own logic. It’s just that they’re not necessarily, or not entirely, impersonal arguments–which don’t have exclusive claim to the realm of the intellect.

    Like Melissa, I’ve got to get off of here and do something productive with my day, so I too had better exercise some self-discipline and say to all farewell for now and thanks for a fascinating discussion (just to clarify that I’m not ignoring anyone who’s waiting around with bated breath for my next comment ;>).

  104. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    “The statements aren’t actually parallel inasmuch as one of them is controversial (for your audience) and one of them is not (for your audience).”

    As you point out elsewhere, Melissa P., I don’t see that the differing popularity of these positions in the audience says anything interesting about whether they are correct or not, or makes the one arrogant and unreflective and the other not.

    Elisabeth,

    I have seen your comment number 3 on the other post. Its nothing at all like what you’ve said here. I don’t take your repeated criticisms of my tone when talking about Down’s Syndrome aborters very seriously because I think your real objections are about substance. You simply don’t think its generally wrong to kill Down’s Syndrome babies, if they haven’t been born yet. You haven’t objected at all about my lack of sensitivity to people who abort girls, because you agree that its generally wrong. Second, assuming that you really do object to general statements in principle, because they’re harsh, condemnatory, and so forth, then I have a hard time seeing your own statements on this thread as consistent with that. I don’t pardon the hypocrisy. I don’t understand why you think we should.

  105. Elisabeth on May 25, 2006 at 2:20 pm

    Adam, I’ve told you how I feel. To clarify about tone – I think it’s wrong to joke about aborting baby girls, and I think it’s wrong to label couples “wicked” who abort babies with Down’s Syndrome.

  106. Elisabeth on May 25, 2006 at 2:24 pm

    I’m not surprised you won’t pardon the hypocrisy. But the reason why you should? Because I ask you to forgive me.

  107. Christian Y. Cardall on May 25, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    Having come to believe that blog discussions often need refocusing in new posts after about 30 comments or so, I offer a manual trackback to The Insufficiency of Moral Reasoning in response to Rosalynde‘s #63.

  108. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    Elisabeth,
    I’d be more inclined to pardon the hypocrisy if you were inclined to stop being hypocritical. You still think its wicked to call behavior wicked, which is just contradictory. And you don’t apply that same standard to people who condemn aborting girls. Also, I didn’t, even in jest, call for aborting girls or condone it or anything. I have no idea what you’re upset about.

  109. Seth R. on May 25, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    Anybody who has attended BYU and heard a student “bear testimony” of the falsehood of anything from Evolution to the Democratic Party knows about the tyranny of personal experience over the use of logic.

    I will agree with Elizabeth that empathy is helpful in conducting useful conversation.

    But I absolutely refuse to make it an absolute requirement for useful conversation.

    Our obligation is to search for truth, wherever we may find it, regardless of whether the other guy is “being mean” or not.

  110. bbell on May 25, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    Elisabeth,

    It seems to me that you are defending people that Abort Downs kids by asking for empathy and a compassionate tone while discussing it.

    This would jive with Pro-choice views that I have seen you post before.

  111. danithew on May 25, 2006 at 3:02 pm

    Is there a large group of people out there aborting children with Downs Syndrome? Are there any statistics on this?

    Elisabeth, it is a wicked thing to be a Red Sox fan.

  112. Seth R. on May 25, 2006 at 3:07 pm

    Yeah,

    Just about everyone in Russia aborts deficient fetuses if they can. I don’t know about Europe, but my suspicion is that such practices are highly likely there as well.

  113. Melissa on May 25, 2006 at 3:08 pm

    Alright! I couldn’t resist checking back when I’m just sitting here working at my computer. This is why I usually limit my blogging to the weekends!

    Adam,

    You haven’t read my posts carefully enough. I have not broached the question of whether or not the positions you’ve taken are correct. I’ve been making a relatively simple point. Without offering reasons for a statement that together might function as an argument for a position then you’re moralizing or preaching or condemning or something else, but you’re not doing philosophy. Not only are you not doing philosophy, without offering reasons your original post looks arrogant and/or unreflective and thus needlessly alienates would-be conversation partners.

    Your original post looks arrogant because without offering reasons you risk appearing like you don’t think you need to offer reasons for taking the position that you do on a controversial issue and thus that you’re not interested in dialectical engagement with others, listening to other opinons, entertaining objections, etc. A prouncement made in the manner you did does not read as an invitation to discuss the issue with you. The form your post takes makes it seem like you are not interested in the giving and taking of reasons. Without any reasons attached to your statement it also could easily be read as a position you’ve just inherited or picked up somewhere instead of a position you’ve come to through reasoning and reflection based on certain moral principles. If it is indeed a position you hold reflectively and represents a position which makes sense given other values you hold then let us in on that reasoning process.

    Such a post would be more useful, more conducive to meaningful exploration of the moral question and its implications and more apt to reveal what is mere emotional reaction on both sides of this issue.

  114. Kaimi Wenger on May 25, 2006 at 3:12 pm

    Melissa,

    The first step in fighting blog addiction is realizing that you have a problem. . .

    :P

    Danithew,

    Finally, some pure and unalloyed truth on this thread! (We need to institute a rule for long threads – if a commenter doesn’t mock the Red Sox at least once by comment #50, comments are closed).

  115. Kathy S. on May 25, 2006 at 3:21 pm

    There are several potentially life-threatening neonatal conditions associated with Down syndrome, and some babies die even with treatement. But the prognosis in the majority of cases is good. This is not an argument regarding whether it’s wrong to abort an unborn child who is doomed to suffer greatly and die early; it’s an argument regarding whether it’s wrong to abort an unborn child who is likely to live, yet is likely to bring challenges, and will be different in ways that our society frowns upon.

    Women who abort a fetus with Down syndrome do so not because they don’t want to have a baby, but because they don’t want to have a particular kind of baby. As grievous as abortion is in general, selective abortion is, to me, even more chilling. Still, I think it’s appropriate and desirable to speak compassionately about those facing such decisions, while remaining true to moral convictions.

    I am sympathetic to the difficulty of facing this diagnosis. It is perfectly understandable why many people are reluctant to parent a child with medical problems or cognitive limitations. We’ve been socially trained desire healthy, “normal” children. Many of us secretly want above-average children. Plus we have children with the expectation that they will grow up someday. The potential ramifications–social, physical, emotional–for the family of a child with Down syndrome are not to be taken lightly. But the worth of a human life carries even more weight than these significant considerations.

    Perhaps the saddest thing about these abortions is that parents likely base their decision on very limited information. A diagnosis of Down syndrome is a label attached to a package of potential complications–basically, a “what might go wrong” list. Such a list cannot describe the full reality of having the child in your life. It can’t even tell you what particular configuration of syndrome-related conditions your child will have. It does not include anything positive, because the beautiful aspects to the experience that thousands of parents have described cannot be quantified.

    I wonder how many children would be “unwanted” if they all came with a prenatal prediction of what challenges that child will have, what pain the child will have to endure, and what struggles the child’s family will have as a result–without any mention of what will be gained by the child or the family.

    There are waiting lists of people hoping to adopt a child with Down syndrome. My seventh child has Down syndrome, and if I wanted another child but was unable to bear one myself, I would jump at the chance to adopt another child with Down syndrome. I wish parents considering abortion could consult with parents who have lived the experience, or even who desire the experience. A consult with an OB and a geneticist is woefully inadequate.

    p.s. While terms such as Down’s, downs, Down’s children, downs babies are common, they are incorrect. The correct term for the diagnosis is Down syndrome. Also, many parents appreciate their children being referred to as children first, with their atypical makeup as a subtitle: a child with Down syndrome, a baby with Down syndrome. It’s more awkward usage, but the subtle change in connotation is worth it, in my opinion. Of course, some parents don’t care either way. And since the common usage is not intended to be insulting, I don’t take it as an insult. I try not to be hypersensitive to such things, although I did ask a friend yesterday not to use “retarded” as an insult, in my presence. We can all thank Napoleon D. for resurrecting that unfortunate slang.

  116. Kathy S. on May 25, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    Those who have the endurance to make it this far in the thread may appreciate this article:

    New Study Fuels Controversy Over Down Syndrome Abortions

  117. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    Danithew,

    A little googling turned up this stat from the British NHS:

    “Sixty-two per cent of all Down’s syndrome cases are now diagnosed while still in the womb and 92 per cent of those affected choose to abort.” (emphasis added)

    And from the article Kathy S. links to:

    “studies have shown the abortion rate of Down syndrome babies is estimated at 80 to 90 percent when prenatal screening reveals the possibility or probability for the condition.

    The situation is compounded by the fact that some of the prenatal Down syndrome testing is wrong 20 to 40 percent of the time

  118. Rosalynde Welch on May 25, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    Lynnette (#73): “because if the people who are making decisions about those lives can’t hear what you have to say because of the way you’re saying it, you’re not actually accomplishing much.”

    This puzzles me, Lynnette. If you’re objecting to the form, not the content, do you really think constantly-repeated make-nice hedges sweeten the message so much? “I know this is a sensitive issue, and it is not my intent to offend, and it behooves us all to speak with compassion, but it is my conclusion that it is morally wrong to…” To parents in the midst of the excruciating dilemma implied in the post’s scenario, I can scarcely believe that this sugars the pill. It seems to me that it’s the social act of articulating a bald, unhedged, unequivocal moral principle that has become publicly unacceptable, and that it’s this social act, rather than the tone or, as you say, the actual content, that disturbs people. And as I’ve suggested, I fear that this will make serious public discussions of morality nearly impossible to initiate or sustain: there’s a place for qualification in an argument, but it generally comes after the claims and grounds have been laid out.

  119. bbell on May 25, 2006 at 3:45 pm

    here is why this post has over 100 comments and the aborting girls has only 28

    Pretty much everybody agrees that aborting girl fetuses is wrong. Its wicked its that simple. This also warms the feminists amongst us hearts. That we agree that aborting girl fetuses is wrong. I hereby condemn as unjust and wicked cultures that value baby boys over baby girls to the point of killing girl fetuses

    The problem that people are having with this Downs post is that the pro-choicers amongst us are not so sure its that bad to abort a Child with Down Syndrome
    (big huge hugs to Kathy S.) This jives with Pro-choice thought, feelings, and practices in the US and Europe

  120. DKL on May 25, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    I usually take objection about form and clarity to be sour-grapes type arguments. Basically, people are reluctant to admit that you’re right for whatever reason (their own pride or a grudge based on your arrogance), so they change the topic to something where they feel they can gain the upper hand. I don’t generally like this approach. Rather than use the pretense of serious discussion to manipulate the conversation to something that makes me look better, I’d rather say, “Well, sure you’re right about it. But you’re still a total poopy head.”

    That said, if the goal is to have a well reasoned discussion about the history of eugenics or the merits and demerits of eugenics, starting out by simply declaring that it’s wicked is not the most effective means to that end. I deduce that such a discussion either was not Adam’s goal, or he’s a bit inept when it comes to kicking off thoughtful conversations.

    Also, regardless of what might otherwise be said of his rhetorical style, he’s getting at something very important when we compares aborting babies with Down Syndrome to aborting babies with two X chromosomes–and it’s not just that Adam might think that women are retarded. Nobody has offered a useful criteria for distinguishing which genetic screens justify abortion and which do not.

  121. Kaimi Wenger on May 25, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    Bbell,

    Do you typically find that broad-brush descriptions of what pro-lifers think, made by pro-choicers, are fair or accurate?

  122. Rosalynde Welch on May 25, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    Eve (#76): “In fact, shouldn’t serious moral discussion, by its very nature, require sensitivity and tact? ”

    Eve, yes, of course, and I think Nate has responded to this issue in the way I would—that is, sensitivity and tact should not devolve into happy-talk or anecdote. (And, incidentally, I didn’t find Adam’s statement insensitive or tactless in context.) I’ll confess that one of my problems with the cry for sensitivity and compassion on sensitive topics is that it’s such a, well, girly thing to do. I worry that women, in their concern to protect feelings and preserve relationships, will recuse themselves from the moral discussions that really matter, or, worse, actively obstruct such discussions in favor of the safe “whatever works for you” ethos that women tend to adopt when they’re talking about anything except child-rearing. “Whatever works for you” and its avatars—”personal decision,” “private matter,” “don’t judge,” &co—is socially safe but intellectually and morally unsatisfying. Women can do better than that.

    About narrative and philosophy: I’m not minimizing the importance of narrative, I’m protecting it! To read a narrative as a tract on moral philosophy (as tempting as it is, and as often as I have done it myself!) is to denature its texture fundamentally, I think.

  123. Elisabeth on May 25, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    Rosalynde, it’s wicked to be sexist.

  124. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    Elisabeth,
    Rosalynde W. says ‘Women can do better than that.” I think a fair inference to draw is that whatever she thinks about what some women actually do, she doesn’t think its inevitable.

  125. Rosalynde Welch on May 25, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    And all these years I’ve thought they were saying it was wicked to be sexy…

  126. Elisabeth on May 25, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    There’s a fine line between sexy and sexist.

  127. Rosalynde Welch on May 25, 2006 at 4:05 pm

    It’s my particular gift to fall on both wrong sides, Elisabeth.

  128. Mark IV on May 25, 2006 at 4:05 pm

    DKL, comment 120 -

    I agree with you. With this post, I don’t think Adam’s purpose was to reach agreement or consensus. It was to highlight differences and put them into sharp relief. Adam, am I right?

  129. bbell on May 25, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    Kaimi,

    I think the fact that this post has generated so much heat is the result of my broad sweeping generalization having some truth to it

    I am serious about my post that pro-choicers are in favor of abortions in Down situations. They are PRO-Choice. The ability and option to abort a child when fetal issues are diagnosed is a long time “talking point” for pro-abortion folks

  130. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    Mark IV,
    I assumed that I would get widespread agreement that it was obviously wrong to kill a Down’s Syndrome kid. I intended to try and get people to explore why they agreed, and use those reasons to query other aspects of the abortion debate. But the Bloggernacle was further gone than I had supposed.

  131. Lynnette on May 25, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    Rosalynde (#118),

    My intent wasn’t to argue for sugar-coating and dithering (though I can see how my comment could be read that way). My concern is that public discussion on this topic seems to often degenerate into one side repeating over and over, “abortion is bad,” while the other side repeats robotically “government intrusion into people’s privacy is bad.” I think both sides could benefit from seriously considering other perspectives that their intended audience might bring, and allowing that awareness to influence the way they frame their discourse. I’m not asking anyone to water down their positions; I’m simply (perhaps naively) wondering about how best to achieve constructive discussion.

    And I’ll freely admit that I have a sterotypically female concern for feelings and relationships, and that it does influence the way I talk about moral issues. I’m not so sure that’s a weakness, though.

  132. Elisabeth on May 25, 2006 at 4:31 pm

    Rosalynde – I find that very hard to believe. However, I cringe at the word “girly” when it’s used to denote something negative (which it invariably is used to do).

    Adam – I never called you “wicked” for expressing your beliefs about children with Down’s Syndrome. I think your tone is wrong, not wicked. There is quite a difference between saying someone is “wicked” and saying that they are “wrong”. But if we used more careful language like this to communicate our beliefs – I wouldn’t be bugging you in the first place.

  133. Lynnette on May 25, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    (But Rosalynde, I’d really hate to feel that we were in a fight, so I might just have to agree with you on all points. ;)

  134. Nate Oman on May 25, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    “And I’ll freely admit that I have a sterotypically female concern for feelings and relationships, and that it does influence the way I talk about moral issues. I’m not so sure that’s a weakness, though.”

    It is when it transforms all discussions about substance into discussions about tone as a way of facing up the reality that people have stark disagreements about important moral questions. Much better, I think, to simply be up front about things and (subject to basic requirements of civility) leave the sensitivity dithering out of it.

  135. Nate Oman on May 25, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    ooops: …NOT facing up to…

  136. APJ on May 25, 2006 at 4:36 pm

    Whew, it’s good to know what this (one sentence) post is truly about (even if one had to wait 130 comments for a definitive answer). Or in other words, is this post really an indication that the bloggernacle is ‘further gone’ than anyone had previously thought?

  137. Lynnette on May 25, 2006 at 4:40 pm

    I could well be wrong, but I’m guessing that if the post had simply asked, “is it wrong to abort someone on the basis of Down’s Syndrome,” there might have been more of a consensus.

    (Where has the bloggernacle “gone,” I wonder? And am I invited?)

  138. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 4:42 pm

    Elisabeth,

    I appreciate the distinction you’re making between ‘wicked’ and ‘wrong’ and I appreciate that you don’t think I’m wicked, just wrong (though I am wicked, but not wrong (grins)). But I would hope that you would bug me even if I used language more to your liking. Surely the tone in which one discusses killing children with down’s syndrome is important, but whether its right to kill them seems pretty important too, maybe even more important. If you think its proper or unwrong to kill children with down’s syndrome, I’d like to know why.

    Incidentally, I still think its contradictory of you to think we shouldn’t make general moral judgments in the context of abortion while making moral judgments about my tone. But in retrospect ‘hypocritical’ is much too strong a word. I prefer to reserve that for people who’s private actions contradict their public moral statements, which is how the Savior used it. My apologies.

  139. Elisabeth on May 25, 2006 at 4:59 pm

    Adam, thanks for your comment #138. I think comment #83 sums up fairly accurately what I believe about babies diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome. That said, I should also clarify that I fully support the Church’s position that abortion may unfortunately be warranted: “when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.”

    As to your second point, I didn’t realize I was being contradictory. I certainly do think it’s appropriate to make moral judgments within the context of abortion – just as much as it is appropriate to make moral judgments regarding tone.

  140. Maren on May 25, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks to those who liked my post.
    Someone asked if there are many people aborting fetuses with Down Syndrome. I unfortunately do not have the exact quotes, because they are packed away in a box (I just moved across the country). However, I recently finished a program in Disabilities Studies at the City University of New York. Not only is the abortion of fetuses prevalent, it is the common course suggested by most doctors. There are also many states that allow parents to deny life saving ordinances to children if they are born with a disability (meaning if a child is born with Down Syndrome and you decide not to keep it, you can just request the child not be fend, and it can starve to death.) As long as it is done within sixty days, there is no consequence for the parents. These cases happen all the time. I do think it is sad to abort a fetus for any disability, gender, etc. I always figured abortion to be a private decision. Having lost one pregnancy and well into my second pregnancy, I know for myself I would never abort a pregnancy, no matter what the doctor told me was wrong. I also know how to get great services for children with disabilities, at little or no cost to the parent. So I am probably biased. In some Asian countries, it is considered bad to have a female child, and measures are used to stop the child from being born. Aborting a fetus because they are female or disabled or homosexual or anything else does not make sense to me. I do not condemn or look down on those who choose to have abortions. However, I will never understand getting rid of a child because of a flaw, or the child not being what I expected. I love and embrace diversity, be it in skin color, disability, gender, whatever. I do not want to rid the world of diversity because a medical test says I should. What next? If suddenly prenatal tests can predict IQ, should we consider aborting all those who do not possess a normal IQ. If suddenly prenatal tests can predict obesity, immoral behavior, hair color, etc, where do we draw the line? It all sounds a little too “Brave New World” for me.

  141. Maren on May 25, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    sorry, fed not fend

  142. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 5:13 pm

    “I think comment #83 sums up fairly accurately what I believe about babies diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome.”

    Comment #83 is an unanswered question.

  143. Nate Oman on May 25, 2006 at 5:20 pm

    “But the Bloggernacle was further gone than I had supposed.”

    It is also possible that they just don’t like you ;->…

  144. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 5:32 pm

    You may be right, Nate. As unlikely as it seems.
    :->

  145. Karen on May 25, 2006 at 6:10 pm

    My fifth child has Down syndrome. We did not know about the Down syndrome until after her birth. We have had challenges, one being open heart surgery at 7 1/2 weeks. One of my first thoughts was that I would not have any more children. I later realized that wasn’t the way it had to be. My husband and I chose to have 3 more children. We did not have any testing done before any of our children. We had no experience with Down syndrome before our daughter was born, our whole family (including extended) has had to learn as we go. She is a wonderful, stuborn, happy, challenging, loving girl. (so very like my “normal” kids) She will be 10 years old tomorrow

  146. annegb on May 25, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    Melissa, maybe we should start a 12 step group for bloggers.

  147. Kimball L. Hunt on May 25, 2006 at 6:44 pm

    Hunter/ gatherer cultures had

    no correctional institutions /
    Therefore its mores would sanction, even insist on members of the community’s stoning severe miscreants to death.

    no refugee camps /
    So, in wartime, to spare against a rival heirs to the booties being taken, cultural mores not only allowed but insisted upon all freemen being killed.

    No hospice centers /
    When the elderly could no longer partake in nomadic sojourns, in cases of extreme exigencies jeapardizing the remainder of the tribe/ extended family’s very survival, these so highly honored if now highly frail ones were allowed to be taken by their Maker.

    No institutions for long-term care for ANY-aged adults nor extensive post-natal care for severly ill infants; and — Well, in the bible PRE-Moses specifically, as in stone- to iron-aged Mesopotamia generally? — there was:

    No guaranteed right to life at all! /
    Other than according to the tribal patriarch’s whim. As exemplified by…To protect against rivalries/ best accumulate wealth to be passed to a bloodline heir?…the cultural practice sanctioning or encouraging the sacrifice of male heirs.

  148. Keryn on May 25, 2006 at 7:13 pm

    There is a (small) possibility that my little sister’s first child, due in July, will have trisomy 18 or trisomy 21 (Down’s Syndrome). When they first discovered the possibility, she had an appointment with a genetics counselor, who advised her of her options. They were as follows: have an amino for a full genetics workup, or do nothing (not really nothing, they of course are monitoring the pregnancy very closely). If she chose the amino, and it came back positive (or whatever) for those problems, she could choose to abort the baby. (She has chosen not to have the amino.)

    This is in Utah County. The problem that Adam is addressing (all the nuances and phrasing aside) is everywhere in our society, which thing I did not realize until recently. I’m grateful for Adam bringing it up, if only for the way he is making us think.

  149. Kathy S. on May 25, 2006 at 7:24 pm

    Keryn, there’s a lot of great support out there for parents of children with Down syndrome. If your sister does indeed have a baby with T21, direct her to the amazing collection of blogs, online support groups, and other links here

    I have a friend whose baby has T18. She was only expected to live for days; she’s now 3 years old.

  150. Cassi on May 25, 2006 at 7:30 pm

    Someone may already have answered this but

    “I can’t see how it is justified to abort a baby in the case of rape or incest through no fault of its own.”

    One possible argument.

    Because it violates the mothers right to choose. In rape because of coercion and in incest becasue of a perversion of a trust. That has some interesting implications however…

  151. Keryn on May 25, 2006 at 7:31 pm

    Kathy S–thanks for the tips. My sister and her husband are wonderful–they are really trying to be prepared for whatever may happen. Recent sad events that have happened to friends of ours have really emphasized the miracle of life and how blessed their little family will be no matter what happens. (And really, the baby will most likely be a very healthy, genetically normal child.)

    But your comment makes the point I was trying to make in comment #98–imagine if 50% (or 60%, or 70%, or whatever) of the children with Down’s Syndrome aren’t born. What kind of parental, family, or individual support will there be in 30 years? What would my daughter, if faced with a similar situation as my sister, do?

  152. mullingandmusing (m&m) on May 25, 2006 at 7:52 pm

    studies have shown the abortion rate of Down syndrome babies is estimated at 80 to 90 percent when prenatal screening reveals the possibility or probability for the condition.

    The situation is compounded by the fact that some of the prenatal Down syndrome testing is wrong 20 to 40 percent of the time�

    This was the point I was going to bring up, but without statistics. No prenatal screenings are perfectly accurate, although I didn’t realize they could be that inaccurate! The fact that abortions happen based on a “possibility” or “probability” makes this whole issue that much more sobering to me.

  153. Cyril on May 25, 2006 at 7:52 pm

    Wow, no new material and all the same roles. T&S is boring.

    Adam, I hope you are not my judge.

    Rosalynde, your issue is that you are neither sexist nor sexy, and no one can stand a fence rider.

    Of course Adam’s statement is right. Why have we all been duped by the straw man to get into this tired debate where one permablogger steers into controversy and the rest come to his/her rescue? (One or two may offer a slight criticism and then apologize for doing so).

    Move on.

  154. Kathy S. on May 25, 2006 at 8:37 pm

    Actually, Rosalynde, when I saw your photo I thought, “gorgeous and brilliant? no fair!” Now, give a feminist deconstruction of that statement.

    I don’t think this issue is as “duh” as you do, Cyril. There are people opposed to abortion in general who may consider DS a just cause for abortion, and I think education and awareness could change that for some. Bringing up the subject, even if nothing seems to come of it in the thread, can cause a positive ripple effect.

  155. Kristine Haglund Harris on May 25, 2006 at 10:23 pm

    Adam, while my political position is different than yours, I agree with you that it is wrong to abort babies with Down syndrome. However, the Church’s position clearly states that there are some genetic conditions that make abortion a possibility one may righteously consider. My sense is that you would never want people to consider abortion, regardless of the gravity of the known (or believed by competent medical authority, the standard set out in the church’s stated policy) defect. While we can agree that the line should be drawn on the far side of Down syndrome, given the non-absolute stance of church policy and doctrine, it seems inevitable that there will be a line-drawing exercise that relies on personal revelation. That being the case, what do you see as the benefit of articulating absolute and universalized moral judgments on this side of that not-bright line? If, ultimately, our Church is content not to take a legal or political position, and to leave the most difficult line-drawing to individuals as moved by the Spirit, why should we do otherwise?

  156. Last Lemming on May 25, 2006 at 11:24 pm

    I can’t imagine the difficulty of being faced with such a challenge as knowing you are expecting a Down’s baby.

    I haven’t been following the Bloggernacle this week, and I don’t have time to read this whole thread. But I do want to respond to this comment and other similar ones I have heard. Although Down’s babies are more likely to have complications than non-Down’s babies, a diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome per se is just not that big a deal. We have dealt with my Down’s son for 20 years. His nonverbal status (not typical of Downs) is a much bigger challenge than the true Down’s symptoms. He took another Down’s girl to the prom last week. They had a blast. Please stop makng it sound like the end of the world to have to deal with this. It just isn’t.

  157. Julie M. Smith on May 25, 2006 at 11:25 pm

    I’m not interested in entering the main fray; I just want to make two side comments:

    No one has responded to Maren writing, “There are also many states that allow parents to deny life saving ordinances to children if they are born with a disability (meaning if a child is born with Down Syndrome and you decide not to keep it, you can just request the child not be fend, and it can starve to death.) As long as it is done within sixty days, there is no consequence for the parents.”

    Now _that_ is wicked.

    Also, let’s not act like amnio is a ‘gateway drug’ to abortion. If advised, I would have an amnio or any other test they come up with, not because I would consider aborting, but because I would want time to read, learn, plan, prepare, etc., the arrival of a special needs child.

  158. Keryn on May 25, 2006 at 11:38 pm

    That’s a good point, Julie, and if any of my comments made it sound like amnio was the gateway to abortion, I’m sorry. I know that is not correct, and that’s not what I meant to convey.

    However, amnio can lead to miscarriage–it’s like a 10% risk, or something, so it’s not huge, but in my sister’s situation there are other factors (related to the original problem) that have made this pregnancy fragile already. So amino isn’t always the best idea, even if all you want is time to prepare for the arrival of a special needs child. (I’m not a doctor, don’t play one on TV, so take this for what it is worth.) (/off topic)

  159. queuno on May 26, 2006 at 12:09 am

    There’s this rule of the internet:

    The more comments, the less is said.

  160. queuno on May 26, 2006 at 12:09 am

    Actually, I meant to say, “the more comments, the less said”. But hey, it’s my rule, so I can misgrammatize it if I want… :)

  161. Kimball L. Hunt on May 26, 2006 at 12:23 am

    Looks at R’s pitcher wunst aginn and imagines how she’s probably very seh — uh s-subtly sensual in real life.

  162. Eve on May 26, 2006 at 12:33 am

    Wow, the comments move fast around here, and this thread is unwiedly and looks nearly dead. But to respond to a couple of old ones–

    Rosalynde (122) said,

    “Eve, yes, of course, and I think Nate has responded to this issue in the way I would—that is, sensitivity and tact should not devolve into happy-talk or anecdote. (And, incidentally, I didn’t find Adam’s statement insensitive or tactless in context.) I’ll confess that one of my problems with the cry for sensitivity and compassion on sensitive topics is that it’s such a, well, girly thing to do. I worry that women, in their concern to protect feelings and preserve relationships, will recuse themselves from the moral discussions that really matter, or, worse, actively obstruct such discussions in favor of the safe “whatever works for youâ€? ethos that women tend to adopt when they’re talking about anything except child-rearing. “Whatever works for youâ€? and its avatars—â€?personal decision,â€? “private matter,â€? “don’t judge,â€? &co—is socially safe but intellectually and morally unsatisfying. Women can do better than that.”

    Rosalynde, I entirely agree that suspending appropriate judgment and avoiding real disagreement to preserve relationships tends to be a women’s problem, and that it is a real problem. I have to add, though, that I’ve seen men do it as well, especially in religious contexts where niceness has such a premuim, and also that I’m surprised at how defensive and even fierce women can sometimes be, and not just about child-rearing. For example, I’ve seen this pattern a few times in Relief Society: Woman #1 voices a somewhat-outside-the-mainstream thought, and Woman #2 proceeds to take her down in the name of defending gospel truth.

    But I don’t think anyone is seriously calling for “happy-talk and anecdotes.” If I might dare to speak for a loose coalition that used to be here, I think we’re calling for the level of considerate honesty that makes discussion possible, not the kind of fake niceness that precludes it. I also don’t think calls for sensitivity and tact are “girly”–they’re Christian. (To the extent that we think they _are_ girly, we’ve created a conflict between Christianity and masculinity, but that’s another subject for another day.)

    I see an equal and opposite problem to the more usally feminine one of retreating from moral judgment, and that’s the more usually masculine one of engaging in moral judgment as a form of gladiatorial combat. And these two problematic ways of engaging morality, or any other subject, perpetuate each other: things get combative, those uncomfortable with interpersonal conflict leave, and it’s left to those who most enjoy combat, where as often as not it goes up in flames.

    And which of these two problems is more prominent on the Bloggernacle? I have yet to see a discussion around here disappear into nice, meaningless whispers because no one can quite work up the courage to threaten a relationship by voicing a different point of view. On the other hand, without the context of nonverbal cues and in the relative anonymity of the Internet, maintaining a civil, friendly, inviting tone is twice as important–and twice as difficult.

    Lynnette said:

    “And I’ll freely admit that I have a sterotypically female concern for feelings and relationships, and that it does influence the way I talk about moral issues. I’m not so sure that’s a weakness, though.�

    And Nate replied,

    “It is when it transforms all discussions about substance into discussions about tone as a way of facing up the reality that people have stark disagreements about important moral questions. Much better, I think, to simply be up front about things and (subject to basic requirements of civility) leave the sensitivity dithering out of it.”

    I don’t think any even casual reader of the Bloggernacle could be unaware of the reality that people have stark disagreements about nearly everything, so I’m not sure how “sensitivity dithering” could obscure that reality even if it tried. But I would also suggest that sensitivity is not something to be dispensed with as quickly as possible so that the real combat between starkly different moral opinions can begin.

  163. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 12:45 am

    Starving kids *is* wicked, Julie Smith. I hope no one thinks I’m insensitive for saying that.

  164. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 12:48 am

    Kristine,
    what I understand you saying doesn’t make sense. I conclude that my understanding is wrong.

    Here’s what I’m understanding: “down syndrome kids are well on the protected side of the abortion line the church draws. Given that, why take an absolutist position on the morality of aborting down syndrome kids?”

  165. Elisabeth on May 26, 2006 at 8:19 am

    Adam (#142), I don’t think it’s very _nice_ of you to ask me for more of an explanation (although I’ve certainly been as detailed on the substance of this issue – or more – than you have been). Your post and your comments give very little room for someone to disagree with you without being associated with “wicked” people or condoning a “wicked” act. And whether or not this label transfers to the person who disagrees with you is a (not so) open question.

    This post (and the other two posts in this sad trilogy) was not written in a way to provoke thoughtful, respectful discussion. It feels like more of a trap, or a witchhunt to root out the most contemptible elements of the bloggernacle and to separate the wheat from the chaff (are you the bloggernacle’s Abraham?).

  166. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 8:54 am

    If you continue to think that ny tone and sensitivity is the real issue here, then I think its pretty clear where you do come out on killing babies with Down Syndrome in some circumstances, though you aren’t willing to say so explicitly (comment #2 is also a good clue).

  167. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 9:02 am

    Eve,
    here’s my beef with what you’re saying. The proponents of sensitivity have not thought that I merited any (your implication that I am not being considerate or honest and that I’m engaging in this discussion not because I believe its true but as a form of “gladiatorial combat” is fairly mild by the standards of the thread, since you leave it at the level of implication). So it seems to me that folks are either using sensitivity as a smokescreen to avoid admitting that they don’t think killing unborn babies because they have Down Syndrome is wrong–or else folks may think that there’s something wrong with killing the unborn babies but that being insensitive to the feelings of the killers is a whole lot worse.

  168. Rosalynde Welch on May 26, 2006 at 9:14 am

    Kristine (#155): “That being the case, what do you see as the benefit of articulating absolute and universalized moral judgments on this side of that not-bright line? If, ultimately, our Church is content not to take a legal or political position, and to leave the most difficult line-drawing to individuals as moved by the Spirit, why should we do otherwise? ”

    Kristine, one of the reasons I think there’s value in conducting public discussions of morality—discussions that may, one hopes, even occasionally arrive at a generally shared consensus—is that in the absence of such discussion we’re left only with the confessional approach to moral problems: here’s what happened to me, here’s the conclusion I drew, now let’s swap. Ultimately, in the arenas of law and politics, the confessional approach is profoundly atomizing: the sharing of personal experiences and conclusions can create friendships and loose coalitions—appropriate forms of sociality for ward and private life—but it doesn’t provide a method for collective deliberation on difficult issues, bacause personal experience is not transferrable in the way ideas are. There will always be those who object to the conclusions reached by this process, but at least most have accepted the method: reasoned deliberation, generally accepted consensus, and embodiment in law. That objective is, of course, grandiose in relation to a blog thread, but even on a blog thread we can practice that kind of thinking and discourse.

  169. Kristine Haglund Harris on May 26, 2006 at 9:37 am

    I’m all for practicing moral discourse, and I generally prefer abstraction to confession (which partially explains my unfortunate proclivity for alienating people in Relief Society). What I don’t understand, and what I was trying to get Adam to elaborate on, is why, when the Church’s position acknowledges complexity, he would want to begin a discussion with a (falsely) simplistic and absolute declaration.

    It’s one thing to try to limit the discourse to general principles, but Adam didn’t do that–examples of people living happily with Down syndrome children have been accepted, even lauded (as, of course, they should be). But, in a crowd of mostly believing Mormons, there aren’t going to be a lot of counterconfessionals, and when Adam then pounces on people who suggest that a more nuanced statement of principle might be appropriate (see #166, for instance), it becomes hard to believe that his general, abstract statement is intended to “provide a method for collective deliberation on difficult issues” as much as it is an exercise in gratifying the lust for certainty on one side of such a difficult issue.

  170. Rosalynde Welch on May 26, 2006 at 9:52 am

    “gratifying the lust for certainty ”

    What a great phrase, Kris! It’s made me think—and this is in relation to the discussion on Nate’s Weimar thread, too—that what I’m after (and here I may be different from Adam) is not so much certainty or simplicity as *verifiability*. I’m not so concerned with knowing for certain right now what the answer to this dilemma is, but I would like to know that there’s a way that we could, conceivably, together come to a verifiable answer. (Verifiable not in the technical sense, of course, but in the sense that the conclusion follows from accepted axioms and argument.)

  171. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 9:53 am

    KHH,
    I guess the answer to your question is that I don’t see the church position acknowledging any complexity with respect to killing unborn children. I generally feel that the church has set up a line on abortion. On one side of the line is the region of complexity–cases of rape, incest, or serious health threats. I feel that down syndrome kids are well on the other side of the line.

  172. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 9:55 am

    “gratifying the lust for certainty �

    I think I would be more sympathetic to the calls for nuance and sensitivity if their proponents showed any.

  173. Eve on May 26, 2006 at 9:56 am

    Adam, to clarify, the comment about gladiatorial combat actually wasn’t directed at you specifically. I was speaking of the long, useless, mean fights that erupt around here from time to time more generally.

    You’ve said several times that people who take issue with your tone do so only because they disagree with your position on abortion. But especially in a forum like this one, I don’t see how you can have enough information about others’ positions on either abortion or what constitutes civil discourse to make that claim. It seems to me that if you want to claim people really mean something other than what they say, the burden of proof is on you.

    Here’s an example of what you seem to be claiming can’t happen. Last fall, there was a student in my class who couldn’t stop talking about the oppression of the Palestinians. I was sympathetic to his cause, but his constant focus on the issue and the way he took over almost every discussion of any other issue and turned it to a discussion of that cause and a constant reiteration of points he’d already made quickly grew annoying. (Just to be absolutely clear, I’m not implying any analogy with you here, just trying to give you a counterexample.) What I objected to about him wasn’t his point of view at all; it was the way he expressed it. I’ve encountered plenty of people in our current political climate of nasty, raucous public debate whose positions I basically agree with but whose ways of expressing themselves I find reprehensible. And, likewise, I’ve encountered many people with whom I disagree but whom I admire for their civility.

    I also don’t think your two alternatives–that people either disagree with you on abortion or that they think being insensitive to killers is worse than abortion–exhaust the possibilities. There’s no moral issue so elevated and so urgent that we’re obliged to rally around it with no attention to the nuances of how it’s presented, discussed, or defended. (For example, if you made an obviously fallacious argument against abortion, would I be obligated by the moral seriousness of the issue at hand to accept the argument?) I think, again, the clearest example of this is the way we’re taught to share the gospel. The gospel is, for Latter-day Saints, the most important issue there is, but as we’re constantly reminded in general conference, the way we present it to others is of paramount–not peripheral–importance.

  174. Kristine Haglund Harris on May 26, 2006 at 10:15 am

    “On one side of the line is the region of complexity–cases of rape, incest, or serious health threats. I feel that down syndrome kids are well on the other side of the line.”

    I agree with you about children with Down syndrome, as I’ve said above. But “serious health threats” is not a bright line; it’s an acknowledgment that decisions have to be made individually, in consultation between parents, doctors, ecclesiastical authorities, and God. Why interject yourself into that situation, especially with loaded, bull-in-the-china-shop one-liners?

  175. Maren on May 26, 2006 at 10:21 am

    Okay, so I had time to look at my books. Most of the cases of parents starving their children with court and hospital blessings were in the 1980′s and legislation has been passed to try and prevent this from happening. However, surveys of both parents and doctors still show that over 50% of parents would rather have their child starve than raise a child with a disability. A case in Indiana in 1983, ‘Baby Doe’ the parents chose not to opt for a surgery that was simple and would save the child’s life, because the child was born with Down Syndrome. Several families stepped forward, offering to adopt the child, with no cost to the birth parents. However, the court upheld the parents right to deny the surgery, and allowed the child to be starved to death. The child died seven days after birth.
    I am not trying to be judgmental, but I would like to understand. Could someone please explain to me the difference between this child, and aborting a fetus deemed to have a disability? From what I understand, most tests to check for disability do not happen until the second or third trimester, making the fetus more developed then the majority of aboritions in the first trimester. In all cases, the parents do not want a child with a disability. Perhaps if this family had known before the child was born, they would have chosen to abort rather than starve their child. Does that somehow make the decision better? I know of many families on lists to adopt children with special needs. Is it right to abort a baby when it is known that there are families waiting to take care of these children? I just want to understand the justifications that people think of. Two people said that starving a child to death is wicked. I personally agree, but I struggle to see the difference. An unwanted child is an unwanted child, either before or after birth. Why is it that before birth, aborting a fetus is a right and a choice, and after birth, killing a child is definitely wrong? I am not looking for an argument, I just want a real answer.

  176. DKL on May 26, 2006 at 10:40 am

    Rosalynde, verifiability? Do I hear echos of positivism?

  177. DKL on May 26, 2006 at 10:43 am

    Rosalynde: all these years I’ve thought they were saying it was wicked to be sexy…

    If it’s wicked to be sexy, then my wife is going to burn. (FYI: She’s one hot babe.)

  178. Kristine Haglund Harris on May 26, 2006 at 11:00 am

    Keryn (158), the risk of miscarriage from amniocentesis is actually around 1% or less. Not saying anything about your sister’s situation (I hope everything goes well for her!); just being obsessive about detail.

  179. Deborah on May 26, 2006 at 11:04 am
  180. Kathy S. on May 26, 2006 at 11:07 am

    Julie (#157), I used to have the same certainty about choosing amnio. But for my last 2 pregnancies I had an OB who shared some helpful statistics with me. I don’t have the exact numbers to offer here, but the way it was presented to me, the likelihood of spontaneous abortion from the amnio was very similar to the likelihood of the amnio testing positive for DS. I didn’t even get the AFP blood test (which is incredibly inaccurate) because I knew I would not risk losing the pregnancy for the sake of gaining knowledge (with the numbers being what they were), and the blood test is useless in and of itself. All it can do is indicate whether amnio is warranted. I certainly don’t begrudge any women choosing to get the amnio done. I was just uncomfortable with the risk involved.

    Keryn, you present some sobering scenarios to consider re possible waning public support for families and individuals affected by DS. That’s why I’m glad this topic is being discussed, even with all the quibbling.

  181. Kristine Haglund Harris on May 26, 2006 at 11:08 am

    Adam (172), I said it was “hard to believe” that you weren’t after triumphant certainty, not that it was impossible. I’ve asked you a couple of times for elaboration of your position; I’m trying to understand. I’ve used lots of dependent clauses, conditional and subjunctive, and parentheses. I’ve pointed out the things I agree with you about. I guess I don’t know what counts as nuanced to you…

  182. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 11:08 am

    Just so, Maren.

    KHH, I still don’t understand where you’re coming from. You agree with me that Down Syndrome abortions are well past the line of what is permissible. But you say that ““serious health threatsâ€? is not a bright line; it’s an acknowledgment that decisions have to be made individually, in consultation between parents, doctors, ecclesiastical authorities, and God. Why interject yourself into that situation, especially with loaded, bull-in-the-china-shop one-liners?” As best as I can tell, the one liners I’ve tossed off here have been about abortions on the basis of Down Syndrome, or sex, or homosexuality, not abortions on the basis of serious health threats. You can’t say out of one side of your mouth that such abortions are well cross the line of what is permissible and out of the other that they involve complex decisions between parents, doctors, ecclesiastical authorites, and God.

    I believe KHH is correct about the risks of abortion because of amnio. 2% is the highest figure I’ve seen anywhere.

    KHH, you say that you’ve just been asking questions and so on. They have mostly been of this sort: “Why interject yourself into that situation, especially with loaded, bull-in-the-china-shop one-liners?” If that’s nuance and sensitivity, I’m a platypus.

  183. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 11:17 am

    “I also don’t think your two alternatives–that people either disagree with you on abortion or that they think being insensitive to killers is worse than abortion–exhaust the possibilities. There’s no moral issue so elevated and so urgent that we’re obliged to rally around it with no attention to the nuances of how it’s presented, discussed, or defended.”

    This is true. But if people spend the bulk of their time talking about nuance and sensitivity, with hardly any attention to the moral issue at all, I think its reasonable to conclude that either they don’t see it as a moral issue or they think sensitivity is much more important of a moral issue. Some people in this thread have tried to distance themselves from my tone while addressing the humanity of children with Down Syndrome and pleading for their life. Others have just attacked me for being insensitive. These latter are up to no good.

  184. Kristine Haglund Harris on May 26, 2006 at 11:33 am

    Adam, I’m sorry I’m not doing very well at saying what I mean in a way that’s understandable. One last try:

    The church’s doctrine is unclear on the issue of when the spirit enters the body, which would make a bright line rule on abortion easier. The church’s policy position acknowledges that abortion is sometimes permissible. For Mormons, then, this is a difficult issue. Why is it then useful to throw out one-liners about cases that seem easy? And (especially!), when people suggest that your one-liners are too easy, to accuse them of being “up to no good”? Even in the case of babies with Down syndrome, it’s not too hard to come up with a hypothetical that would muddy the waters–the mother’s health is threatened, an already born child has issues that would strain the mother’s mental health to the breaking point if she had to care for both children, it’s not completely clear whether the fetus has other problems besides Down syndrome… Oversimplifying the issue, then vilifying those who disagree with you (which is what it looks to me like you’re doing–if you have other motives or think you’re doing something else, I’d welcome your explanation) just doesn’t seem like either an effective rhetorical technique or a praiseworthy moral endeavor.

  185. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 11:37 am

    KHH,

    There is an easy bright line rule on abortion. You’ve stated it yourself, and acknowledged that aborting a child because it has down syndrome is well within the rule. Given that, I fail to see what your objection is. You seem to be saying that because we are uncertain on some things, we must be on others, even while yourself acknowledging that we *aren’t* uncertain about them.

  186. Kristine Haglund Harris on May 26, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    Adam, I think we’re talking past each other, so I’m going to quit, but I want it to be clear that my silence does not betoken consent.

  187. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    Send me an email then, KHH. I’m genuinely unable to understand your position but would like to.

  188. Julie M. Smith on May 26, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    Keryn,

    FYI: I googled and the risk of miscarriage with an amnio is 0.5%. Perhaps other stats would have other numbers, but 10% seems doubtful.

    Kathy S.,

    No disagreements here; I just didn’t like the vibe I was getting that considering an abortion was the *only* reason one would have an amnio.

  189. Elisabeth on May 26, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    At the risk of making a spectacle of myself here (and taking the obvious bait), I just can’t let the comment about my supporting killing go unanswered. I do not support killing. I am opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances, and I have been a strict vegetarian (no meat, including fish) since I was fifteen years old because I do not agree with killing animals for food in our modern society. I do not agree with aborting children because they are “defective” in some way, and I support the Church’s position on abortion.

  190. Lynnette on May 26, 2006 at 2:13 pm

    First of all, I do think that I haven’t always personally exhibited the tact and sensitivity I’ve called for in this thread (particularly in my first rather irritated response), and for that I apologize.

    For what it’s worth, I actually haven’t been focusing on tone merely as a way of avoiding disagreement about the substance of the issue; I don’t disagree that aborting a child on the basis of Down’s Syndrome is wrong (though I suspect I might differ with some here on the question of how best to deal with that in the political realm). I commented on the tone because I think it’s relevant. I don’t require sugar-coating, dithering, or excessive nuance, but I do think it’s possible to state even firm convictions in a calm manner. The initial statement struck me as unnecessarily inflammatory in a way that actually distracted from its message, and therefore worked against the possibility of a thoughtful, substantive discussion of the issue. I agree that excessive sensitivity can detract from authentic debate, but I’d also point out that excessive insensitivity can have the same effect.

    I didn’t realize until I read what Rosalynde and Nate had to say that I might have heard the initial statement very differently than they did. I didn’t take it as someone setting out a moral postulate for discussion (in which case my response would have been more along the lines of, cheers–let the conversation begin); I heard it as someone rather high-handedly making a moral pronouncement in a way that sounded calculated to stir up controversy (and evidently I couldn’t resist taking the bait. ;) I’m quite open to the possibility that my interpretation was off base. However, given that several other people apparently shared my confusion, perhaps in the future a bit more context might be useful?

    I think I’ve blathered enough about this particular meta-issue, though. I would like to say that I’ve appreciated the comments that people have made about abortion and disability; speaking as someone who doesn’t know a lot about the topic, I’ve learned a lot.

  191. Nate Oman on May 26, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    Elisabeth: What about the plants?!?!

  192. Elisabeth on May 26, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    LOL – plants are evil! Did you not see “The Day of the Triffids”?

  193. Keryn on May 26, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    Julie,

    Thanks for the numbers–more than one person has corrected me on that. I believe I was confusing the minimum risk my sister was under with a more generalized, population-type risk. Thanks for clearing it up, everyone who mentioned it…

  194. Nate Oman on May 26, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    Elisabeth: As I suspected! You are an anti-plantite. Not that I mind. As far as I am concerned it is us versus them, which is why I oppose vegatarianism. Given the biomass necessary for every pound of say filet mignion, meat is the most efficient way of getting the plants before they get us…

  195. Elisabeth on May 26, 2006 at 3:14 pm

    Nate, thanks for the laugh! That’s definitely one way of looking at it. :)

  196. Nate Oman on May 26, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    Elisabeth: At the end of the day we are both working for the same cause in our seperate ways. Although, as I mentioned, my way of pressing home the attack against THEM is much more efficient than your way, although I understand your desire to attack them directly. Keep fighting the good fight!

    (BTW, I think that agriculture is a conspiracy by the grass to USE us to get rid of the trees. Oh the cunning of it!)

  197. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    ” I do not agree with aborting children because they are “defectiveâ€? in some way, and I support the Church’s position on abortion.”

    ” don’t disagree that aborting a child on the basis of Down’s Syndrome is wrong.”

    Excellent. I may disagree with the pusillanimity and delay, but thats just tactical (grins).

  198. Lynnette on May 26, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    All this, merely to get me to state a conviction that I held from the beginning and which I would have readily expressed if asked in a reasonable tone? Truly, I’m flattered. :)

  199. DKL on May 26, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    Adam, because of the heavy handed tone of this post, Gary Coleman is very disappointed in you.

  200. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    It is no more than I deserve, DKL.

    You may believe that you were the purpose and design of the thread if you wish, Lynette.

  201. aletheia on May 26, 2006 at 5:34 pm

    re 192: There really is a movie called the Day of the Triffids? I read the novel one day when I was stuck in a minuscule hotel room in London. Actually it was a rather good piece of science fiction (but, then again, I like zombie movies too). So, is the movie version just B-movie schlock?

  202. DKL on May 26, 2006 at 5:36 pm

    Adam, would you mind fixing the link so that it reads href instead of hrlef ? (and then cleaning up this message?)

  203. Elisabeth on May 26, 2006 at 10:30 pm

    #197- ’twas a pyrrhic victory, if one can call it such. And don’t tempt me to start lecturing on your unsportsman-like tone :)

    #201- Ah, yes. “The Day of the Triffids” was made into a camp classic. Not sure if I’d recommend seeing it, but my father – who was born and raised in England (it was an English production) – remembers it quite fondly. Here’s a particularly memorable quote from the protagonist of the movie: “Keep behind me. There’s no sense in getting killed by a plant!”

    If you liked “The Day of the Triffids” – you may also want to check out its sequel, “The Night of the Triffids”, which never was made into a movie.

  204. Last Lemming on May 27, 2006 at 8:33 pm

    No one has responded to Maren writing, “There are also many states that allow parents to deny life saving ordinances to children if they are born with a disability (meaning if a child is born with Down Syndrome and you decide not to keep it, you can just request the child not be fend, and it can starve to death.) As long as it is done within sixty days, there is no consequence for the parents.�

    Now _that_ is wicked.

    It would be wicked if it were true. A very thorough article on the histroy of end-of-life issues with regard to people with disabilities appeared in Exceptional Parent magazine in 2005. It mentions two cases back in the 80′s that triggered a change in federal law that would make Maren’s scenario impossible. Neither case matches what Maren describes all that closely anyway: one involved other, correctable, disabilities and the other was a controlled experiment. Otherwise, the article provides no support for Maren’s claim. See the following link for the article.

    http://www.ndss.org/content.cfm?fuseaction=NwsEvt.Article&article=1187

    Incidentally, “Down’s Syndrome” is considered correct in the UK, so unless you want this to be identified as a strictly North American blog, you should not take criticisms of its usage seriously.

  205. Matt Evans on May 28, 2006 at 12:34 am

    “(where is Matt these days?)”

    Thanks for asking, Elisabeth! Actually, I’m now writing from our new (to us) house in Draper, Utah. I’ve spent the last couple months getting our Maryland house ready to sell, moving furniture and boxes, and fixing up our new house. Spending whole days flooring, painting, fixing sprinkler systems (and on and on) has left me no time for blogging. But I have to admit building tangible (non-digital) things is a refreshing change.

  206. Elisabeth on May 29, 2006 at 9:55 am

    Ah, that explains why you were up so late last night! Congrats on your move – I hear Draper is a great place to live.

  207. Maren on May 30, 2006 at 10:25 am

    Last Lemming,
    I have been gone all weekend, but you should know that I mentioned in a second comment about the laws in the 1980′s, and you should also know that there were not only two cases. Just two cases exposed highly to the media. And, just because laws are in place, does not mean people follow these laws. It does still happen. It happens a lot in other countries. I know that after the 1980′s laws, it is a criminal act. I still want to know the rational between killing a child in the first few weeks of life, and killing a child three months before they are born, the only reason being the child’s disability. I am not trying to say that people need to follow my opinion. I just want to understand the opinion. If the quality of life while in the womb is deemed not good enough for birth, what is the difference, essentially, of decided that the quality of life is not good two days after birth?

  208. Tammy on July 14, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    I guess I would be the mother of one of those \’unwanted Down\’s babies\’ with \’severe disabilities.\’

    Parker was born 19 months ago. He came six weeks early with severe respiratory distress, weighing barely over 4 pounds, having a tethered cord, imperforate anus, his upper airway occluded over 90% by his adenoids, two holes in his heart, and severe pulmonary hypertension. He is on O2 24/7. He has an ostomy. He is on several medications. He has had several operations and needs more. His medical bills have stretched our family finances to the point of needing to have fund raisers in order to provide him with the health care he needs.

    We couldn’t love him more or be more thankful that he is a part of our family.

    He\’s just Parker. The littlest Hodson. The one who\’s hair grows straight up. The one who\’s smile can melt anyone\’s heart. The one who is teaching me life lessons that I never could have learned anywhere else. The one who\’s life plan included that extra chromosome.

    Take a look at his pictures on http://www.prayingforparker.com

    I don\’t understand what an extra chromosome brings with it that makes others feel that this is a child for whom life should be denied.

    Last summer when Parker was in the PICU at Primary Children\’s I had one of the Fellows ask me if I had understood that I had \’options\’ while I was pregnant with Parker.

    I asked her why, when a child comes into the world healty and strong then has an accident that leaves them less than perfect, why doesn\’t anyone offer THOSE parents \’options\’ like a visit with a local euthanasia team?

    Parker is a child with Down syndrome. His life has the same value as any other child\’s

  209. Katy on January 16, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    I don’t know if anyone is still reading this blog, but I had to respond. I am the new mother of a beautiful baby boy with Down Syndrome and completely agree with Adam’s statement. Do I think we should also not judge others, of course, but there is nothing wrong with saying that something is wicked – we seem to live a world where we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by telling them that what they did was wrong. And I can’t imagine a more wrong thing than to kill one of God’s precious spirits. When we abort a child because we think the problems they will have will be too much for us, we are essentially telling God that He made a mistake in thinking we could handle it – that we aren’t deserving of that particular trial. If we are true, humble followers of God, we will not destroy the precious life he sends us because of our own limited view of His eternal plan for us.
    Having said this, I can completely and totally understand the heartache and devastation that one experiences when learning that your precious child will have a disability. It is very scary and I still have a hard time feeling up to the challenge. But every single time I see my sweet, smiling boy that has brought so much more happiness into my life, that joy completely outweighs the struggles we face and I realize WHY we are sent to this earth – not to escape or try to avoid certain trials, but to face what God gives us and make our lives all the more better because of it.

  210. Adam Greenwood on January 17, 2007 at 1:43 am

    My thanks to Tammy and Katy.

  211. Lei on January 20, 2007 at 8:51 am

    At the age of only 24, I gave birth six weeks early to a beautiful baby boy……. about 2 hours after he was born the doctors announced their concerns they thought he had Down Syndrome. My husband and I were both numb with disbelief, we were both healthy, young and I had enjoyed a dreamfully easy pregnancy.

    Now here we are, Isaiah just turned 8 yrs old, he attends a regular school with his ‘normal’ older brother and ‘normal’ younger sister in his own special needs class. He is a wonderful blessing to our family and extended family, and though those early days after his birth were daunting filled with challenges, and heartache he has changed our lives for the better….

    Isaiah was my second child, when I was pregnant with baby #4, we were encouraged to have the usual tests. I was given the news that My chances were 1 in 24 of another child with Down’s. I was scared, I loved Isaiah but wondered if another child with additional needs was going to push my capabilities as a mother to the limit. After prayer filled moments, my husband and I opted NOT to go through with the Amnio….. and just wait and see. I gave birth to a perfectly healthy boy……… could I ever forgive myself if I had risked the life, or taken the life of our son simply because I thought he would be too much hard work????

    Thanks for the discussion – just found the site

  212. Katy on January 26, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    Lei:
    I’m 24 – 23 when I had my little boy (my first comment is above yours), and I find your comments helpful. I do have fear about now finding out with our next pregnancy – I know I could not end the pregnancy, yet while I love my little baby so much, it scares me to death to think of having another child with DS. My husband and I also found out a few hours after birth that DS was suspected. The current edition of Newsweek (Jan. 29, 2007) has a wonderfully written commentary on Down Syndrome and testing by George F. Will (on the last page). Thanks for your comments.

  213. Last Lemming on January 26, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    My wife had amnios during her last three pregnancies. She had no intention of ending any of them, but she wanted to know so she could be prepared. Nothing wrong with that.

  214. karinatwork on March 28, 2007 at 1:49 am

    So, if I am 39, and I wish for sibling for my son, but I am absolutely terrified of the statistics that say that we are at a high risk to conceive a child with a disability, I should not even try to conceive? Is that wicked, too?

  215. Luella Diaz on May 2, 2007 at 11:55 am

    On Monday my grandson turned 6 and is so loved by all that are lucky enough to know him. Sure he was a surprise but not unwanted. My son was 25 and his wife was 19 so of course no amnio was done. Dominic was a few weeks old before they found out and at that time found out the Drs. suspected all along but he nursed without trouble and a flat head is a family trait as is almond shaped eyes. How did they feel? At first shocked, then as my son put it to us when he told us the news,(they lived in another state),\” Mom you always said I was a special gift from God and now he has proved it by giving us a son with DS\’. Never has he been treated like anything but what he is, their loving son. He gets no special treatment and is expected to be well mannered and is a real gentelman. While his chronological age is 6 his mental age is closer to 3 1/2, like his younger sister. He has an older and younger sister that adore him and his older sister (7) understands that he has DS but as she put it \” It means he processes a little slower than some.\” They were a little concerned about having another child after him but felt that God only gives us what we can handle. However while they and the rest of us would not change anything we do not presume to judge others. Judge not lest yea be judged and found wanting. Just as they have not walked in my shoes I cannot walk in their\’s. For us we are gratefull God granted us the greatest gift in Dominic we understand it might not be so for others. Plus Dominic has been given a good heart and no other health problems that can come with DS. What will come in the future we can only wait and see. God be with all of you that have the terrible decision to make and guide you to make the choice that is right for you.
    Remember God only makes that which is good.

  216. Mary on July 1, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    We never really know what challenge we will face in our life but choosing to face it and do what is right in terms of LOVE is what comprises the best in us and in human nature. What can seem like tragedy can actually be our greatest blessing.

    I know I have heard that nothing happens in our lives that God did not allow to happen and that if we could see things from the other side of eternity we would never change anything in our life…. But what can allow us to really believe that as being true!

    Anyone of us can come up with miriade of situation in human history that are completely horrific and we cannot imagine that God would allow them…. so FAITH, supernatural faith, not human faith, is the only answer. If we truly believe in God as being Good and merciful and trust in Him completely, then saying \” Be done it unto me accoprding to Your Word\” is the only answer.

    The problem with our times is that true faith is seldom found. People have forgotten what true faith requires and what it means. There is a purpose for every life…either you believe that or not! God has a purpose for what we consider mentally retarded people. We are judging them and giving them a death sentance because we do not really have faith that every person has been chosen and loved, long before they were even conceived. What else can I say? I struggle with faith all the time…but I try to really keep faith! I believe faith and love are joined and dependent on eachother. Someone once said “Faith comes from knowledge of God”

    “Hope comes from the memory of what God can do and has done” and “Love comes from our “will”. You are not going to love without the faith and the hope in God. Then “willing to love” despite the obstacles becomes the call because you trust that God has His purpose that is beyond your knowledge and perception. We can only take things one step at a time. You have to have a prayer life so that when “your hour” comes, you can say “yes” to God’s Will. We all have an “hour” too…some test, some trial, we have to face…

  217. Mary on July 2, 2007 at 7:05 am

    I just wanted to add another bit to my comment in that I don’t want to give the impression I believe God condons evil and evil events by willing them, such as the holocaust in World War II or even the present holocaust of innocents we call abortion, but He never forces His Will…His Will being that we act with love and not selfishness, vengence , anger, greed, lust, avarice, vanity, pride ( recognize the list of seven deadly sins?) But when we choose to act according to those sins there are consequences and we live with those consequences in our world.
    He does change events, though, when people pray and repent… and there are miriad glimpses of this throughout history as well where people were rescued and past through great trials and calamitites with prayer…

    so God Wills good things
    He allows us to choose a path
    He wills certain events that are unchageable ( like the incarnation)
    He allows certain events that could have been avoided if people had co-operated with grace instead…
    He does bring good out of evil in the end, which is the greatest mystery…

    Remember World War !! was prophesised in 1917 at a little town in Fatima Portugal….God said that if people prayed the rosary, lived good lives and consecrated Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart there would not be a great world war….well people didn’t respond to that call and so the choice was ours.
    He allowed the consequence of our choice….

    In the end we learn humilty from our falls and that is how good comes from them.

    The Blessed Mother is still requesting the rosary to end war. How many are responding? Whatr can be the consequence of ignoring the call?

  218. Sue on October 6, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    I would hope parents who learn their unborn baby has Down syndrome would meet the many families who actually live with children with Down syndrome. My teenage daughter was born with this and yes, she has medical issues (heart defects w/open heart surgery, seizures). She also has a triumphant spirit, wonderful sense of humor and caring heart. Most of her peers don\’t have medical issues as severe as hers. They also have something to offer, as does she.

    Is her life a parade of endless suffering? No. Could all of her medical issues be predicted before birth? No. Could her degree of functioning/ IQ be predicted before birth? What about her potential? Again, no to all of these.

    Those who say they shouldn\’t judge people until they walk in their shoes are right – and they should consider that this means they shouldn\’t judge the quality of life of disabled people whom they do not know. They shouldn\’t judge these people\’s families, either. I am glad my daughter exists and should I learn I am expecting another child with Down syndrome, I would welcome him or her. I refuse the pity of ignorant people, as does my daughter. Our lives are a celebration. Thank you.

  219. Tamara on April 27, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    I started reading this and had to respond. I was 33 years old when I got pregnant for the 1st time. We were elated. At week 17 of our pregnancy we went in for a routine sonogram and we were sent to a high-risk doctor the same day as my OBGYN found abnormalities with our sweet little girl. Much to our dismay, we learned on March 8, 2005 that our baby would most likely have Downs, 4 heart defects, GI problems, short femurs, and we were encouraged to abort as we were told that Hannah would not live after birth. We were disgusted by the doctors \”suggestion\” especially when we said absolutely no to abortion and he told us we were thinking emotionally instead of logically. We then informed him abortion was murder and only God had the right to take a human life. Now, 3 years later, we have a beautiful little girl named Hannah, yes she did live. She has had 2 open-heart surgeries, no GI problems, no short femurs, other than the heart, she had no problems. She is the light of our lives and we would have missed out on the complete JOY of her if we had listened to our doctor and aborted her. Abortion is murder and it is disgusting to me that just because people find out that they are going to have a disabled child, they think that sweet precious little unborn life is not worth anything. I get so sick of \”a woman\’s right to choose\”….your choice is made when you get pregnant…..there should be no law that allows anyone to terminate a life after it is conceived! Life begins at conception!!! So, I have walked in the shoes of a person giving birth to a baby with DS and I would do it all again wholeheartedly! My child is the best thing that ever happened to me and my life centers around her. She is smart, funny, BEAUTIFUL and an inspiration to many. She is God\’s precious gift and I feel blessed that God chose me for her.

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