Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Downs Syndrome Debate

Christianity Today has had some articles about some new medical research that is trying to find a method for reversing some of the developmental problems of Down Syndrome patient. So far, it's only done on mice. But the news opened up a discussion of whether the drug should be used on a Downs Syndrome person early in his/her infancy (at this point the discussion is moot or at least hypothetical).

One writer wrote an emotional denial that it should be used. She is the mother of a little Downs Syndrome girl, and argues about the meaning of broken and fallen and normal and that her daughter doesn't need fixing. Another women, who suffers from a pretty serious genetic disease, added to the conversation by saying she wants to be accepted and not seen as less than whole but she wants a cure, too, and isn't willing to just accept the disease.

So, this is the dilemma: if we are trying to cure conditions like Downs Syndrome, does that mean we aren't accepting the people who suffer from them? If we accept the people who suffer, are we somehow then dissuaded from doing all we can to help them?

I have been teaching from Mark, which has a lot of healing stories. Why did Jesus heal people? There is the theological argument that he did it to prove his authority over the natural world and disease and therefore that he was the Messiah. Of course, but that seems to diminish his compassion, which is evident from the fact that he touched and was touched by unclean sickly people. Jesus could have done other types of miracles. He didn't have to heal. I believe the fact that he healed had a lot more significance. One, that healing is a good thing. Second, that illness is not the way it's supposed to be, the apostle Paul's thorn in the flesh notwithstanding (John MacArthur says the thorn was people who opposed him, not a bodily ailment). Third, that we are to be healers where possible. Not in the sense of our becoming medical personnel, but to bring healing in every way.

Personally, as the sister of a developmentally disabled person who also suffers from autism, I would have given anything for my brother to be "normal." (I know, I know, that's a naughty word, but it will have to do). I still would give anything. How much does my brother suffer because of it? How much of life has he missed? How would all of our lives have been different if he had not been disabled? I have to admit I think it's a little odd for a mother to not want her daughter to be freed of Downs Syndrome, even in a hypothetical scenario. I think she's being a little dishonest about the matter.

It is easy to idolize suffering when someone else is doing it.

We like to think that Downs Syndrome persons are more accepted today, and in some circles they are. But let's not forget that 90% of the preborn babies with Downs are aborted. That doesn't sound like acceptance to me. We've got a long way to go until we are a truly tolerant society if we can't accept a disabled child. I don't care how much you support same-sex marriage if you believe a disabled child should be aborted.

So, I understand the dilemma. To want to cure Downs threatens to lessen even the already low status of these folks, but at the same time to deny the desire for freedom from the condition for one's child is disingenuous at best.

I can't help but bring up Sarah Palin, since she is the most prominent mother of a Downs child in the country. The left makes fun of her and her child (big bullying hypocrites) and say she shows him off for sympathy and political points, etc. So is she supposed to deny his existence? However, it is on the very basis of her having a Downs child that I would question her need to become President, if not her qualifications. She has children to raise. Sorry about that, but she does.

No comments:

What I Learned about Empathy Last Night

Last night in the English as Second Language that another teacher and I conduct at church, we had a class of six.  One Chinese young woman w...