Tuesday, January 29, 2013

An important question for the American church


Continuing the theme of the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, please welcome my dear friend Grace, who chases four children, blogs at Gracelings, runs the very important FBI for Gladney families, and has a very important question to ask. 
 

If I could ask the Christian Church in America one thing, it would be this:

Where are all our babies with Down Syndrome?

If we, the Christian Church (and I'm looking at you, Evangelicals) are so pro-life as to want to pass legislation requiring women to view ultrasounds of their baby before they can have an abortion, if we want to limit access to emergency contraception, if we want to make abortion illegal and criminalize the practitioners and patients who engage in abortion, we need to ask this question of ourselves.

Where are all our babies with Down Syndrome?


Baby Lily, story at National Association for Down Syndrome


It's estimated that 90-95% of pregnancies with a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome end in elective termination. That's right. 90-95% of women who find out they care carrying a child with Down Syndrome abort their baby.

Assuming that Down Syndrome occurs with the same frequency among Christians and non-Christians, for every 5 children with Down Syndrome born to Non-Christians, there should be 95 children with Down Syndrome born to Christians.

But I don't know 95 Christian families with kids with DS.  
Do you 
Why is that, Church? 
Where are all those precious babies?


Sweet baby Trey, whose story is here


Beloved, if we want to be pro-life, we need to start in our own wombs.

What if we, Church, were to show the world what pro-life looks like? What if we were to show the world that every life, even especially those lives with atypical chomosomal make-up, are precious? What if we were to value each life that God knits together in our wombs so much that we had entire Sunday School classes to minister to parents of children with Down Syndrome, or entire VBS camps for our atypical blessings? What if those 90-95 babies filled our sanctuaries with their joyful smiles? 

Then, Church, then we would truly be pro-life.


This post originally appeared on gracelings.org.

51 comments:

  1. This is why I love what I do, coordinating our church's special needs ministry. Love it! (I also blog about it at www.TheWorksofGodDisplayed.com, though that's been quieter in the past year as I figure out what life looks like as a ministry leader after our own atypical blessing joined the family via special needs adoption from Taiwan. Right now, it looks like silence on the blogfront for now. :))

    ReplyDelete
  2. I totally and wholeheartedly agree, but I'm not following your math in this paragraph. Please explain. I was going to share this, but this paragraph didn't make any sense to me.

    "Assuming that Down Syndrome occurs with the same frequency among Christians and non-Christians, for every 5 children with Down Syndrome born to Non-Christians, there should be 95 children with Down Syndrome born to Christians."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you read the clarifying comment I posted below:)

      Delete
  3. Yes! I do not have a child w/ Down Syndrome, but my son has special needs. EVERY child is precious.

    ReplyDelete
  4. ^^ Yes. That paragraph doesn't make sense to me either.

    ReplyDelete
  5. And many of us who have one child with Down syndrome have went on to adopt another one (or more). It would be so amazing if others could see what I see. If you are not blessed to have a child with Down syndrome, consider adopting one ;)

    Michelle
    www.thepathofthewind.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. I *think* this is supposed to mean that if roughly 5 out of every 100 'non-Christians' who are carrying babies with Downs Syndrome give birth to those babies, we should see 95 babies born for every 100 'Christians' carrying babies with Downs Syndrome (I'm also not sure whether she's talking about people who self-identify as Christian or people who she believes to be Christian). Except, based on the author's logic, shouldn't it be 100 for the Christian pregnancies?

    I'm not entirely sure, and I'm not comfortable sharing this post with that discrepancy and without links to the statistical information -- I'm not trying to be a pain, but with these technical issues, this post isn't going to convince anyone of anything they didn't already believe.

    But I appreciate what you're trying to do, so thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No offence, Missy, but I believe the above figures are inaccurate. This link explains why (with reference to facts and statistics): http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thinplaces/2011/06/90-of-babies-with-down-syndrome-aborted-really/#comments

      Having said that, as the mother of a child with autism, who has similar levels of disability to a Downs child, how sad that anyone would consider a special needs child, well, not special enough.
      Sandy

      Delete
    2. I hope you read my clarifying comment below. When I have a minute (which may not be for a week or 3:) I can link to the statistics about the rate of abortion among those receiving a prenatal diagnosis of DS. Or you can read a quote here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thinplaces/2011/06/90-of-babies-with-down-syndrome-aborted-really/#comments

      And I am talking about people who self-identify as Christian (as about 50% of the people in the USA do, according to the most recent research I saw.)

      Delete
    3. Sandy @ multicolouredsmartypants.com

      Actually, the link you provided reinforces my post: "In actuality, 80-95% of pregnancies with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are terminated (a meta-analysis concludes that 92% worldwide are terminated), according to studies provided to me by Dr. Brian Skotko of Children’s Hospital Boston." (I wrote "90-95% of women who find out they care carrying a child with Down Syndrome abort their baby.")

      What is interesting to me is in this link is this quote: "Many women elect to have prenatal screening tests, but, according to Henry Greeley, writing for Nature (January 2011), only 2% go on to have an amnio. As a result, most babies born with Down syndrome were not prenatally diagnosed.
      On the one hand, this is good news. Presumably one of the reasons that women don’t get an amnio is that they wouldn't terminate the pregnancy even in the case of Trisomy 21 (aka Down syndrome)." While that is certainly one reason that many women don't have an amnio, I actually believe, as a healthcare provider, that there are many other reasons, and all seem to me more likely. For instance, the cost of the amnio (which is often not covered by insurance) and the difficulty scheduling one are big deterrents. Additionally, in most states, if you wait to have the amnio at 20 weeks, you are past the legal limit of obtaining an abortion. Which is to say, if a woman's first trimester screening is positive, and she is the type of person who would chose an abortion, she will likely go have the abortion WITHOUT waiting for confirmation from an amnio.

      Interesting article.

      Delete
  7. Ours is a medium sized church and I am thrilled with its diversity in our fairly bland southern location. We have no less than twelve with Downs Syndrome each Sunday who sing loudly and smile contagiously through our time together. Thank you for raising the question...I'm proud of those who live their values. It takes courage!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is wonderful to hear! Amen and AMEN!

      Delete
  8. So, I agree that we should be pushing more inside our own churches to stop this... BUT, there are other factors that are different inside American churches that may be affecting it to.

    Most Down Syndrome children are born to older couples, and MANY Christians have children earlier in life.

    But then again... why aren't we pushing more for the adoption of these children into Christian homes too?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Statistically speaking, there is no significant difference in maternal age between Christians and non-Christians in the US. While you may know many Christian couples who have have children at younger ages, when you examine the 50% of Americans who self-identify as Christian, there are no statistically significant differences in things like age at first sexual encounter, age at marriage, or maternal age at the time of birth. (I would have to search for that link, but there was a big study that came out about a year ago that looked at sexual experiences, marriage, birth, etc between Christians and non-Christians.)

      Delete
  9. I appreciate the sentiment behind this, but also don't understand the paragraph that others have mentioned. I know plenty of non-Christians who would never dream of aborting a baby (even a Down Syndrome baby), so I can't follow the logic/percentages with that statement...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you read the clarifying comment I posted:)

      Delete
  10. I don't know 95 total people with children who have Down's syndrome. I'm not willing to assume that Christians must be aborting them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really hard for Christians to admit that Christians have abortions. I personally walked through post-abortion grief with 2 Christian friends who chose (and regretted immensely) abortion. I have also taken care of several patients who chose to terminate an early-term pregnancy so that they could pursue chemotherapy and other modalities that are incompatible with pregnancy.

      (It's also hard to admit that married couples chose abortion, both Christian and non-Christian. We like to think of abortion as a "problem" for young, unmarried non-Christian women, but that's another post.)

      Delete
  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you read my clarifying comment:)

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. Can you please explain the part of my statistical analysis that is incorrect? I certainly don't want to post incorrect information, which is why this post was reviewed by 2 statisticians before it was ever published. I would love if you could let me know exactly what is incorrect so that I can correct it.

      Delete
  12. Aren't some of you getting bogged down with the numbers? The message is what's important. If someone, Christian or not, is pro-life, then terminating a Downs pregnancy shouldn't be acceptable. Do any of Missy's readers know a family with a Downs child?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Several! One in our church and a few who go to other churches. None adopted. All by birth.

      Delete
    2. That's wonderful. I've only known one family--ever-- with a Downs Child. I"m one of Missy's older readers--in my 60's.

      Delete
  13. To clarify the paragraph that seems to be troubling some of you: We can assume that Down Syndrome occurs at approximately the same rate among both Christians and non-Christians, that pre-natal diagnosis of DS and miscarriage/fetal demise/stillbirth/complications/infant death all occur at approximately the same rate among both Christians and non-Christians.

    Assuming this, if 100 non-Christian and 100 Christian/pro-life women receive a prenatal diagnosis of DS, we should expect that only 5-10 of the non-Christian mothers will give birth to their child- the rest will abort. We should expect that Christians, who claim to be pro-life, will birth all 100 babies. So for every 5-10 babies with DS outside the Church, we *should* see 95 more within the Church.

    Does that make sense?

    ReplyDelete
  14. We are a Christian family who has has a total of 11 children, two of whom have Down syndrome (whom we adopted from Ukraine). Many of our children have special needs, and we truly believe that ALL are precious in His sight. To believe anything otherwise would not line up with God's beliefs about each and every child He knits in their biological mother's womb.

    I must also share that MANY Christians, the Church, have wrapped their arms around our family with support, love, offerings, and service. An adult Sunday School class from Austin Stone Church in Austin "adopted" our family and provided monthly diapers and wipes for our two boys who have Down syndrome--this is not even OUR home church--in fact, we've never even visited this church! Jamie Ivey, wife to worship leader Aaron Ivey at Austin Stone, shared our story with a few of her friends, and this is how God moved within their church to show support to our family, which lines up exactly with what the message of this blog post. Thank you and Amen, Church!

    www.AllArePreciousInHisSight.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can testify that both Jamie Ivey and Austin Stone rock.

      I unfortunately also do not believe they are 'normal.' In fact I know they are not.

      Delete
    2. That's awesome! What a wonderful story!

      Delete
  15. Good grief, y'all.

    I must say I am extremely disappointed in how many of y'all are missing the forest for the trees here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosh, Missy, I understand what an emotive subject this is. I grieve at the idea that a child would be 'terminated' simply because they have, or are suspected to have, a disability or special needs.

      My question (and I suspect the other commenters) was more to do with the idea that women who wouldn't otherwise choose abortion (in this instance Christian women) *are* choosing it because they don't want a disabled child. I have not read anything that suggests that is the case, simply because Downs is so rare that the only way you'd find out is by determining the number of abortions due to Downs, the number of live births diagnosed with Downs, and compared this with the religious affiliation of the mother. I also don't want to automatically assume that Christian women don't have abortions. After all, there are plenty of other things that Christians do that I equally grieve over. Dunno if I'm making sense.

      That's not to say it's not happening, just that what I have read doesn't demonstrate that it is. I do hope you aren't taking these comments personally, because I don't think they're meant that way. God bless, Missy x

      Sandy

      Delete
    2. Missy,

      I see the point. I get the point. And my heart breaks over the thought that a woman I sit beside in church is equally likely to abort her baby over a diagnosis of Down's Syndrome than a non-believing woman. And I can even "see" Graceling's math. But it doesn't really equate to real numbers. We go to a large church for our area. In fact, our church has both an adult class for people with special needs and a children's class for children with special needs. Both classes are FULL of children and adults - PRAISE GOD! But I know of only ONE child in our entire church who has Down's Syndrome. The special needs in our church range from Autism to CP.

      Yes, something must be done to stop infanticide. Yes, the church MUST take a stand against murdering babies because they have genetic disorders. And you know I love you girl, but this data seems very skewed. I don't think it's done to promote a bad agenda and from what I've read of Graceling's stuff, she's legit too. But often, numbers just don't pan out the way that they should.

      I'm not suggesting that Christian women don't have abortions. I'm not suggesting that we do nothing. But I'm failing to see how this is accurate data. And yes, I read the comments above. Enlighten me? :)

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    4. Yeah, not missing the forest for the trees at all, but I can't repost something for my liberal friends to pick apart and laugh at. Statistics, when used, must be clear and accurate or they do more harm than good. I firmly believe that EVERY human life is God ordained!

      Delete
    5. Wow. I really, really think you all are reading a different post than what I wrote! My background is medical, as is my husband's. His Masters and PhD work focuses on the use of statistical analysis, analytics, logical regression and inductive reasoning in medicine. Everything I wrote was reviewed by 2 statisticians before being posted. You may not like what I say, but the statistics are sound.

      (continued in next comment)

      Delete
    6. That said, what I wrote is primarily a QUESTION- and a question for the CHURCH, not for non-Christians. I posted some facts (the rate of pregnancies who receive a prenatal diagnosis of DS that result in abortion) which are easily verifiable (in fact, another commenter linked to a source.) I made an observation (no discernible difference in birth rates of children with DS between Christians and non-Christians). I proposed a hypothesis using inductive reasoning: that Christians are just as likely as non-Christians to abort a pregnancy when they receive a prenatal diagnosis of DS.

      Down Syndrome occurs in 1 out of every 691 live births (live births--- it occurs more frequently in pregnancy, but the pregnancy often is terminated before the child is born. It may occur as frequently as 1 in 400 pregnancies, or even MORE frequently than that. I cannot find good information about the frequency of DS in pregnancy, I can just say that it is significantly more than live births of DS.) (http://www.nads.org/pages_new/facts.html) That means that DS occurs with ALMOST the same frequency as Sickle Cell Anemia in African American babies (1 in 500 live births. DS probably occurs more frequently in pregnancy than SCD.) (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/data.html) DS occurs in tremendously more live births than Cystic Fibrosis (1 in 3700 live births) (http://www.lung.org/assets/documents/publications/solddc-chapters/cf.pdf). I don't know about you, but I know several children with SCD and CF in Christian families. I know ONE child with DS in a Christian family. DS is NOT "very rare." It's actually pretty common... as common as multiple birth of triplet+ (including those pregnancies with fertility treatment) (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/multiple.htm). I know two Christian families with "naturally occurring" (non fertility treatment) triplets, and one with IVF-assisted triplets. I know more triplets in Christian families than children with DS in Christian families. Claim what you want about the math "panning out", but this is my reality. And I am asking why that is. WHY do I see so many more of these other anomalies and so FEW children with DS? Why?

      It's a question. And the only answer I can come up with (and researching this involved contacting the President of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologist (http://www.aaplog.org/) as well as talking to pro-life care providers in the medical field, and caring for women- both as a nurse and as a friend- who are pro-life but terminated a DS/atypical pregnancy or selectively reduced in IVF cases of multiples) is that Christian women ARE having abortions. They ARE choosing abortion for a pregnancy that they are told will result in miscarriage or stillbirth. They ARE choosing abortion for multiples that place the entire pregnancy at risk. And they ARE choosing abortion for pregnancy that has positive first trimester triple/quad screening. I have held the hands of Christian women who have made these choices.

      And friends, that is NOT okay. We can deny this uncomfortable truth, say that there is no research to prove it (and you're right, there isn't- religious affiliation of mothers is not reported among abortion statistics so far as I can find in credible sources, and even if it is, we can't tell the circumstances that led each individual to choose abortion because that is definitely not reported), and say we don't want to believe it or we don't want to think about this because it will make us "judge" how pro-life our church is based on the number of children with SN born in the congregation. We can create excuse after excuse to not believe the hard, ugly truth about our churches: they are full of sinners who sin just the same way as those outside of the Church. But until we take this plank out of our own eye, how can we try to remove the speck from those non-Christian women who are choosing abortion?

      (continued in next comment)

      Delete
    7. I think Britany raises a good point. If we don't see the love and compassion of Christ displayed in our own Churches to our own brothers and sisters parenting special needs children, our own sons and daughters who have atypical chromosomes, HOW can we expect to see church members living out their pro-life convictions? How can we minister to the non-Christian special needs population if we can't even minister to those INSIDE the church? While the rare church has a booming SN ministry and openly welcomes children and adults with special needs, the truth is that MANY Christians claim these lives are precious, but we don't want them disturbing our worship service or decreasing the volunteer pool for Children's ministries.

      But like I said, this is a question. I have yet to see anything in the comments that suggests a different conclusion than what I have come to through my research and life experiences. I desperately wish that I could come to any other logical conclusion, and I hope that if any of you have data that would suggest otherwise, you post it. My heart breaks for these children who are terminated before their life even begins, and for their families who likely feel that they don't have many other choices.

      Delete
    8. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    9. You do understand that I am writing about The Church, not YOUR church, correct?

      And you also understand that a HYPOTHESIS(which is what we call a question that you think you have the answer to but for which there has not been research done--- such as what I have written here) does not require a "burden of proof", correct? The burden of proof would be in the research, which has not been done in this area. The facts that I have listed are well-footed in reality, and the rest is the common sense, LOGICAL (in the scientific sense of the word) answer to the question. And in the mean time, babies are still being aborted because they have atypical DNA. How can we not speak out and advocate for these lives? Once our eyes have been opened, we cannot be silent.

      I will invite you again to show me exactly what is wrong with my statistic and reasoning. I don't want to just have "good intentions"--- I want to have good and right actions. It truly concerns me that you continue to accuse me of lying in this post.

      Delete
  16. Several years ago, my brother & SIL learned the child they were carrying was positive for the screening for Spina Bifida - and was, in fact, born with it. What shocked me the most about her story was that the specialist they saw asked her if she would like him to terminate the pregnancy. When she expressed her horror at him even suggesting such a thing, he told her he was required to offer it as an alternative. I don't know anymore about it than that, but it really opened my eyes to how simple it might seem to someone - Christian or not - who received such news, to abort.

    Having said that, I work in the Special Needs ministry of our church's children's ministry - at a VERY LARGE, well-known evangelical mega-church. And we have on average 2 or 3 children on any given Sunday attend our class. Statistically speaking, our church should have a MUCH, much bigger ministry to this community but we've done a very poor job of reaching out to them, partly because our leaders don't believe we would have the volunteers to handle them if they came. I believe this has a lot to do with the stigma that remains among Christians regarding special needs children. And I point my finger first at myself, because prior to having a child diagnosed with Aspergers, I was the one who would walk out of my way not to come in contact with a special needs child or adult. It scared me out of my wits to think of giving birth to one of "those" children, and it made me terribly uncomfortable to see them in church. But God knew how to turn my heart when he sent my beautiful son into our lives, and helped me look beyond the person so many people see on the outside, and instead see the wonder of God's creation that is so often locked away inside - not so much in our case, but in the case of some of the wonderful children I have been blessed to know through the class. My point is just that while many churches are breaking the mold and bringing their special needs ministries out of the dark ages (I think of Stonebriar Church in Frisco, TX), many are like our church, where we seem content to hide them away in a corner instead of educating the congregation about them. And I can't help but think this isn't encouraging women to carry their babies with special needs to term.

    And my nephew with Spina Bifida? He's 3 and a living doll, defying all the odds and (for now), largely unaffected by his disease.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You raise a really good point: so often in the Church, our WORDS are pro-life, but our ACTIONS are pro-my-own-comfort-level. Which is often not exactly pro-life.

      Delete
  17. I'd welcome any child, if I was physically able to care for one. It hurts my heart that I am not. I don't care what the world sees as being "wrong with them". If we were only wanted and loved by being perfect, we'd all be in a whole lot of trouble.

    ReplyDelete
  18. My question for graceling is: do you know 5 children with Down Syndrome from non-christian families?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In my work as a nurse and though our family voluneteerism at a local home for young adults with developmental disabilities, I have met many, many families with children with DS. Overwhelmingly, these families have been non-Christian. In my circle of friends and acquaintances (largely Christian), I know one Christian family that birthed a child with DS (although many that have adopted a child with DS/developmental disabilities). I know 2 non-Christian families in my circle who have birthed children with DS. It saddens me that I can rattle off more non-Christian families than Christian families.

      Delete
  19. Another possibility to consider is that women are aborting babies who are "likely" to have down syndrome, and end up murdering perfectly healthy babies.

    For example - a couple from our church was told there was a high likelihood of their baby being down syndrome, they were asked if they wanted to abort, they said no - she gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby. Had she been chosen to abort, she would've aborted a healthy baby. But her decision not to abort, did not raise the # of down syndrome births because the baby wasn't down syndrome. In other words - maybe there are a lot of false diagnoses going on?

    ReplyDelete
  20. The idea that Christian women could be aborting DS babies is absolutely horrifying to me and I so hope that the statistics are incorrect.

    One thing that also does give me hope - yes, the statistics show that Christians and non-Christians have babies at similar ages. But I'm not entirely sure that stat is accurate. And who qualifies as a Christian? There are many people that would claim Christianity that have no idea what it even means to be a Christian. Such as claiming Christianity because they're not Muslim, for example.

    The reason I say this is because the vast majority of the Christian women I know have babies at a much younger age than the non-Christian women I know.

    And obviously, the risk of DS increases hugely as we age, so that would make a big difference.

    I truly hope it's a statistical problem, not an actual problem, because if that is the case, that is heartbreaking to me. :(

    ReplyDelete
  21. How sad that so many people cannot fathom that Christendom is so guilty of discrimination. So guilty. When my husband and I began our adoption we intended to bring a special needs child into our home. Our referral process lead us to children on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum. The discrimination against the segment of our population on this spectrum is equally horrific. Spend any time at all on adoption boards and you will see the detailed discussions of parents trying to "weed-out" this very undesirable special-need.

    ReplyDelete
  22. For the record, I completely agree with Grace's post, or I would not have posted it. She has outlined her statistical methodology and not one of y'all have explained exactly how she is so wrong.

    In the same way that if someone were to insult a guest in my home, I would end it, I am shutting down comments on this post.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...