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May 8, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Responses to Down syndrome testing

Thankful for medical discoveries

I have never walked in the shoes of a Down syndrome parent but, nevertheless, have some observations about George Will’s comments concerning them. [“The serenity of Jon Will,” Opinion, May 5.]

First, I doubt if very many Down syndrome parents have the patience, resources, skills or energy “to navigate society’s complexities” as have Jon’s. The personal lives of the parents that I have seen who have taken on the responsibility of caring for a child “with limited (or no) understanding, and limited ability to communicate misunderstanding,” have ended. Saving the Down’s baby has meant the end of the parents’ and siblings’ normal life. And for what end?

Second, I have no idea how many parents have prenatal testing that reveals a Down syndrome fetus, but presumably there are many. If Will would like to stop the “90 percent of those whose parents have prenatal testing” from having the fetus aborted, would the Down’s child population grow from 400,000 to 800,000 or 1,200,000 or more?

Responsible parents, and society as a whole, should be thankful for medical discoveries that reveal abnormalities in fetuses and for Roe v. Wade which allows parents to make a choice of whether to bring a life into the world that could be destructive to the family and alter the lives of those who must then commit theirs to taking care of such a child, and then as an adult “with limited understanding.”

Will’s story is touching, but nothing should be done that would limit a parent’s opportunity to choose whether to follow his path.

— Robert L. Wiley, Mercer Island

Consider budget cuts

Jon Will sounds like a great guy. His father, however, does him a disservice by using him to promote his own emotional stand against abortion.

When my son Matt was born 27 years ago with Down syndrome, early intervention was blossoming and we were painted a bright picture. I could never have imagined our current situation in which services are being cut, and the funds that help my son keep the job he loves are threatened.

Will derides this “age of entitlements” as if Jon and Matt are above all that. In truth, entitlements have contributed greatly to who Matt is — early intervention, good schooling, medical therapies, job coaches.

In these times of both obscene bonuses and budget cuts, it is a disservice to gloss over it as if these folks don’t need material things.

Jon and Matt are enjoying great lives, not just because they have disabilities and are exempt from the greed of us temporarily able-bodied folks. Let’s be honest about what it takes and invest in the good schools, job coaches, housing options and safe public transportation that benefit everyone. Perhaps then the heartbreaking decision of whether one is ready for, or whether the world will truly welcome, an unborn child facing significant challenges will be an easier one to embrace.

— Vickie Louden, Kirkland


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