Bristol Palin has apologized for an inaccurate statement about the termination rate of babies with Down syndrome. She has brought to light a very important discussion, that we at the IDSC have discussed in great detail in the past. While she is right to correct this statement, we would like to clarify where she may have gotten that information.
Dr. Brian Skotko has been working on this issue for a long time. Here is information directly from him, concerning the rate of termination.
So you can see with all of these numbers and statistics how a person could make a mistake when quoting this information. The board of the IDSC has issued statements about this in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. Our stance is this; what ever the termination rate actually is, one baby's life taken, because a mother was given out of date information and was pressured to take the life of her unborn baby, due to a diagnosis of Down syndrome, is one baby too many.
Every day, we are contacted by families who were pressured to end their pregnancy. They want support and they would like to advocate about this issue. Unfortunately, many professionals, family members, and friends, have used this "90%" statistic to encourage them to end their pregnancy. It is being presented as a sort of "an everyone else is doing it" approach.
For a parent who is just receiving their child's diagnosis, hearing this inaccurate statistic can be heartbreaking. Many report feeling shock and discouragement. Also, as mentioned previously, it can be used to try to encourage a parent in the direction of termination. That is the danger of misusing this number. However, it would be more accurate to share with parents that they are not alone. If only 2% of mothers are tested, that means 98% are not. Simply put, there are many of us who are raising our children, and are ready to support those who are new to the Ds diagnosis.
The mere fact that people are saying this to expectant parents at the moment they get their child's diagnosis lowers the dignity of all of our loved ones who have Down syndrome.
Instead, when a child is diagnosed with Down syndrome, standard protocol should be: directing the parents to support, directing the parents to accurate up to date information, and directing the parents to quality medical care. At no time should misinformation be given.
So we are glad that Bristol Palin has brought this to the attention of others on a larger scale. Hopefully people will start to see how this affects a family, when they are pressured to end their pregnancy, when this statistic is used against the life of the child, who has Down syndrome.
As we always say, pressuring a woman to end her pregnancy because the baby has Down syndrome lowers the dignity of the child and the mother. That is 100% true! And that statistic cannot be debated.