By Barb Tennant
October 27th, 2006
Under Barb Tennant's article is a handwritten speech by Mrs. Tennant's daughter, Julie Tennant. Julie talks about her Down syndrome, her love of life, and how blessed she is an extra "love chromosome."
In October of 2006, my husband and I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. It was heart-wrenching to see what Nazis did with “special needs” people. Their methods of trying to create a “pure” race” and use the processes of “selection” were horrifying! Those tactics would never be allowed in the United States…would they?
Actually, something similar to genetic "purification" does happen in America today. A simple blood test for pregnant women will show the possibility or probability of giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome. A study in the March 2006 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reveals what happens to babies who are prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome. Billed by the Harvard University Gazette as “the largest and most comprehensive study on prenatally-diagnosed Down syndrome to date,” the article reveals that of all the women who test positive for the probability of this kind of birth, 80-90 percent choose to abort. The sad situation is made worse by the fact that some prenatal testing for Down syndrome is wrong 20-40 percent of the time.
Is this any better than the Nazi tactics for doing away with the unwanted? No! We have tidied the process and made it legal but the end result is the same. A Canadian study of 22,000 women who received prenatal diagnosis for Down syndrome found that 88 percent chose abortion. That would count for 19,360 blessings unborn.
What I find so ironic is that if Down syndrome babies were considered a separate species, they would all be eligible for the “endangered or threatened species” list.
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was created to “protect endangered and threatened species and take steps to recover these species as key components of America’s heritage.” An “endangered species is one that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” Killing 88 percent of a species would certainly qualify as being in danger of extinction!
To help conserve genetic diversity, the ESA defines “species” broadly to include subspecies and distinct populations. The ESA decides which species to list by a priority system designed to direct their efforts towards those in greatest need. In their own words, they give no preference to popular species or so-called “higher life forms.” Shouldn’t pre-born Down syndrome people at least be considered “a life form”? Where are the PETA people? Why isn’t the ACLU jumping to defend this life issue?
If Down syndrome children were identified as an endangered species, organizations all over the world would probably pour resources into a “Save The Down Syndrome Creatures” foundation. There would be rallies, posters, and bumper stickers. Congress, on behalf of the American people, protects many varieties of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, clams, snails, insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and several plant species. As of October 10, 2006, a total of 1,009 different species are listed as endangered and 302 as threatened in the United States alone. But alas, a human being who will potentially have Down syndrome isn’t given as much value as one of these. DDT was even banned in order to preserve the eggs of bald eagles—that is, would-be eagles! But we won’t protect “would-be” people with Down syndrome? Why is there no outcry in the media?
I have tried to understand the evolutionist and pro-choice groups’ points of view. I try to keep an open mind, but their arguments seem to contradict themselves. “We’ll protect these but not those…these creatures are valuable but those lives are worth less than our freedom…” Perhaps my strong opposing stance comes from the fact that my own mother tried unsuccessfully to abort me, 58 years ago. The fact that I can write this and even have an opinion is an amazing gift. There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not aware of how precious life is. If abortions were legal in 1948, I would have no voice to speak on this issue or any other.
The other reason I feel so strongly about this subject is that our youngest daughter Julie is 31 years old and has Down syndrome. Last September, Julie spoke to over 500 people at a Sanctity of Life event and received a standing ovation. Her entire being radiates with a profound simplicity and honesty that this complicated world desperately needs. Why 80 to 90 percent of women abort when they think they may have a child – a gift! – like this is beyond my thinking.
To me, pro-choice isn’t a matter of which of my fetuses should live. It’s a matter of choosing to accept the fetus I conceived and raise them to their highest potential.
Julie's Speech on Sancitity of Life Sunday:
(go to this site to read her speech)
Barbara and Julie Tennant live in Syracuse, New York. Barbara's husband--Julie's dad--is named Randy, and the Tennants have three other children and four grandchildren. Barb and Randy have a passion to help build strong families. Please email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.