Monday, 31 March 2014

Will The Harmony Prenatal Test mean the Eradication of Down Syndrome, Autism and More. And Is That a Good Thing?

If you knew your unborn baby had Down Syndrome. Or Autism. Or ADHD. What would you do?

First things first. I am Pro-Choice. 
With that out of the way, here's the problem.

Until now, the only way to tell if your unborn child had Down Syndrome was through amniocentesis. An invasive procedure, that has many risks involved. Including the very real risk of losing the baby. So most people forego the test.  There is a new method of trisomy testing in the U.S., which has become available here in Canada. The test is non-invasive, with no risk to the fetus. The Harmony Trisomy Test from Ariosa Diagnostics Inc is a simple blood test. 

That's it.

A blood test taken at 10 weeks gestation

With such a simple test available, how long before it becomes standard procedure for all expectant mothers?

And what are the implications of that?

This video is an extra from the movie Gattaca that explains where we are heading. It is already out-dated in terms of science, we have passed the frontiers they mention. But the information goes a long way towards helping to understand the quandary.

The Harmony Trisomy blood tests are performed after expectant parents have chosen to have a child. The tests will help them decide whether they want that PARTICULAR child. They will make that choice not based on accurate information or prognosis, and not based on love. They will make that choice based on fear. What will the abortion rates be for families wanting to expand, but given the information that their child may have Down Syndrome (and the stretch to testing for Autism, ADHD, OCD, etc is not a big stretch, it is within the realm of probability within the next few years).

Will Down Syndrome (and again Autism etc) be eradicated?

Should they be?

These tests cannot tell you how severe the unborn child's challenges will be. Nor can they tell you their potential. 

So how do we know who and what you are eliminating.

This video gets the point across.

This video was created in 1997. Since then many of the people mentioned have been shown to have forms of Autism as well ( Einstein, Abraham Lincoln) and there are many not included, Mozart, Bill Gates and more. None of these people would be here if Harmony (and its like) were around for their moms.

What kind of world would we be living in?

With prenatal ASD testing, 3 people in this photo would not exist. 

Even if a test could predict not just disorder, but severity, should it? A child born today, with the exact same challenges as my 20 year old son Eric has a much better outlook than he has. Why? Because we know what works in terms of education and therapies. And we have ACCESS to them. So 'severity' does NOT predict potential. Nothing can. Because humans have infinite potential if given adequate resources.

Then there is this

I am who I am because I grew up with a severely developmentally delayed brother. By the time I was 3 years old I was more compassionate, open and understanding than most adults. And that didn't waiver. In fact, those traits became stronger in me as I aged. I also became a fighter. I FIGHT for what is RIGHT. My own sons are now experiencing the same thing, and I see it in every Autism Household I have ever met. The siblings are incredible people. Much more mature, loving, compassionate and driven than their peers. And generally they are exceptional in whatever field they chose. Because they know what it is like to face challenges. Big challenges. And they know that challenges are meant to be overcome. That is not something that can be taught from a text book. Only experience can instill that drive. That drive, combined with compassion and openess are not something that are inate. They come from being raised in enviornments like Autism Households.

So if we COULD detect severity, and eliminate the most severe, what would the human race become?
And would it stop there?

What do YOU think?

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