Sunday, September 07, 2008

No Abortion => No PreNatal Test=> No Genocide

We are watching the clock tick down. Every day we are a little closer to a prenatal test for autism. The not so funny fact is it wont be 100% accurate. It will be anywhere from 75% to 95% accurate. Just like down syndrome once it is there there will be no more walks for a cure.

Often in this world we are faced with decisions that are hard. No easy alternatives. damned f you do, damned if you dont. I try to choose as best I can the choices that at least make things a little better.

We are faced with evil in our time. The specter of eugenics is raising its ugly head once more. The call is now for "Normalcy" a normal race. We all want normailty ?? right? It is the latest ploy to rid the world of its so called undesirables deemed by a few.

When we compare that with denying a woman's right to choose, there is no comparison. Genocide is the greater evil. A whole group of people with the devalued genetic signatures will go into the night of history , if we allow this.

Even when we have NT allies , say parents, they're often more concerned about services and care for *their* kids. The question of future generations of autistics is unimportant or even undesirable to them.

The truth be told is that our efforts to halt the coming prenatal test is simply insufficent as this point in time. I see no reason why that would change. It requires money. Yet when I want to extol capitalism as a way for us to have more of a say I am excoriated by our own advocates. This self defeating belief system will do us in. It will keep us down and powerless.

Our last stop gap measure until we as a community are more in a position to better advocate for ourselves is to support the lesser of two evils.We need to align and ally ourselves with the prolifers. They have a real shot at making abortion illegal thereby resulting in any and all prenatal test useless. So please join with me and support Mcain/Palin to stop a prenatal test by stopping abortion.

It is our only viable alternative at this point.


CS said...

Joe, while I support a bill that would protect autistics prenatally, what do you do in the circumstance that a female autistic is raped and brutalized in a group home? Should she be forced to carry the fetus? If so, what type of "freedom" are you supporting? I thought you were for being "self-reliant". Being self reliant also means people have a choice about their lives. I realize this is a sort of catch 22 (protecting autistics vs. choice), but life is not as black and white.

Suzanne said...

As a (pro-choice) mother of boys with Autism and Downs, I understand your worry. I was surprised to be offered selective termination after the amniocentesis proved Trisomy21. I know the stat of 90% and that could be true. To me, it means that there aren't Curebie parents to Downies, because the ones who don't want them just don't have them. That will certainly happen to autistics if a prenatal test is developed, especially in a world where Autism is made out to be a thief of children's souls.

Lisa said...

Thanks Joe, you've highlighted how the abortion issue flies smack dab into the eugenics debate. I have been struggling with this ever since my son was dx with autism, and since following the opinions of the Hub's loudest anti-cure, anti-prenatal testing, anti-eugenics bloggers.

How can one argue against eugenics and anti-prenatal test (anti-cure), while at the same time continue to support abortion (pro-choice is the PC term)?

I am sensing the same confusion in political and autism/special ed/disability blogs. The same "what if rape/incest" is a tired, old (and I'd predict rare) argument.

As a *modern* woman, I used to vote solely on the abortion issue alone (Supreme Court appointees). Now, as a mother, I cannot bring myself to support the Dem party.

I'm with you on McCain/Palin and switched my voter registration this week.

mayfly said...

CS, why would you support a bill which protects only autistics prenatally? Are non-autistics not worthy of such protection? The purposeful taking of any innocent human life is wrong.

What happens if the child of the raped female autistic tests positive for autism? Is that child not worthy of protection?

Socrates said...

This is probably one of the toughest issues we face. One of the biggest suprises for me has been my transition from an absolutist pro-choicer, via an AS diagnosis, to an pro-lifer [but accepting that in cases like CS's example, abortion is a lesser evil, than rape victim being force to carry a fetus full-term]. No easy answers.

CS said...

"I am sensing the same confusion in political and autism/special ed/disability blogs. The same "what if rape/incest" is a tired, old (and I'd predict rare) argument. "

I wonder if you would say this to a victim of rape, that their concerns only have to do with being PC?

"CS, why would you support a bill which protects only autistics prenatally?"

Because I don't feel fetuses should be aborted based on neurology or sex. However, I wouldn't codify this necessarily into law, I would simply put restrictions on it with exceptions being rape, incest and the life of the mother.

The eugenics question is one of "the ends" and really does a disservice to those who have been eliminated because of REAL eugenics (see T4). Life is not so black and white as you may think.

However, to reduce the needs of autistic people to abortion only is really a simplistic outlook to autistic and disabled rights. What are you prepared to support once the autistic person is born? Are you like McCain/Palin and believe in ignoring issues like the Community Choice Act, fully funding IDEA and community supports? If so, your view of autistic rights is limited to the 1st minutes of life. You ignore the rest.

Life is nuanced.

An American said...

Life is nuanced.

I get your point there are more issue than the first minutes of life. But C are't those isues mute if the beneficiery isnt there to enjoy them or fight for them?

Not to mention renatal just says some types of people have a value that other types dont prejudging before the fact. How can One determine the values of anyone's life ubess that life is lived?

CS said...

Joe, I agree :

"But C are't those isues mute if the beneficiery isnt there to enjoy them or fight for them?"

These are very difficult questions. I wish I had an answer to this but I simply do not.

However, let me say that it is more difficult for us to ask others to be tolerant of autistic "behavior" if at the same time we seem to contradict that by saying we want to restrict other's of their beliefs that are core to them. I wish I could answer this question with a black/white answer but I'm afraid this issue does not lend itself to strict right and wrong. There are exceptions as I see it.

I think the first step has to be that autistic/disabled people are seen as real persons. I think that will go a long way to prepping the ground for the question of abortion. Society can show that they care about autistic/disabled people by listening to their concerns and until they are able to recognize those of us who are living, we can't expect them to recognize those of us who are not yet in "this world".

Alyric said...


Where are you getting the 75 to 95% rate of accuracy from? Last |I heard they were struggling to reach 20% and arguably the majority of that 20% are of known genetic predispositions to autism that a lot would argue are only autism in that the cognitive abilites of the person are so severely affected that they would automatically qualifiy for an autism diagnosis as Steven Novella recently argued, as did Leo Kanner 40 years before him. That is the problem with a laundry list style of autism diagnostic criteria combined with a range of symptoms not usually found in autism. Current diagnostic practice ignores the presence of these additional symptoms.

Anonymous said...

That's some terrible logic. You would vote for someone with total disdain for your rights as a human being because they are anti-abortion? These folks love life until it is born; after that, you better have your act together, because you aren't getting anything from them.

If the problem is the test, why not outlaw the test? Outlawing abortion does not mean that there will not be abortion, first of all. Second, you sweep into the ambit of your "solution" problems completely unrelated to the one you purport to target (preventing eugenics).

Third, it is simply unnecessary. They will never come up with a test to reliably predict autism. It is far too varied a genotype, and far too varied a group of expressions.

On the contrary, I guarantee that existing autistics will get fewer rights, fewer services, and fewer options for their lives under McCain/Palin. Look at the statements from each party platform on disability, and tell me that abortion is where you should be focusing.

An American said...

why not outlaw the test?

Yea that is not happening?? The problem is that is *so* remote right now it just will not happen in the forseeable future.

It is pipe a dream I rather go with what works than pie in the sky dream.

And you first have to be alive in order to be abused and denied. With the renatal test, our community will be decimate. The ame fears are now being echoed in the GLBT community.

Foresam said...

If we had a genetic test, then we could identify all of the neuroinsane frauds who aren't really autistic and put them in prison for fraud. Wouldn't that be great!

Anonymous said...

i'm starting to get concerned that the autistic rights movement is turning into a socialist movement which claims 'autistics are helpless without government intervention' based on reading alot of the recent posts on autism hub bloggers. i know some probably need some government help, but to say that every single autistic would be better off with more government would be a misnomer. i also think this will feed into autism speaks' claim that autistics drain taxpayer money as burdens, something i thought that we are trying to fight against.

think about it for a second. if the autistic rights movement becomes about more government, you will be seeing less rights, as they will tell you what you can and can't do, instead of you deciding what you want to do with your life. i personally don't want the government to be my nanny, i wish more people would realize that demanding more government now could bite us in the butt over time and write their own destiny.

Jeff Gitchel said...

It’s been suggested that the Neurodiversity movement should ally itself with the “Pro-Life” movement in an effort to prevent autistic children from being aborted when doctors give mothers the results of prenatal genetic testing. I’ll have to disagree. The war between Abortion and Privacy is an argument that has been pushed on us by people who want to avoid discussing and dealing with the real problem. And this alliance would simply place us into the same useless argument, with the same lack of effect.

The popular discussion always zeroes in on the false choice. Either women should be allowed to control their reproduction (including abortion), or abortion is bad and we must prohibit it. These are really not the only parts of this problem, but those who love controlling what we do and say insist on restricting the discussion to these two points – only.

Here’s the truth: abortion is a bad thing. Every time a woman feels she has no other choice, something has gone wrong. Any time a woman fails to understand that it’s a baby she’s aborting, someone has lied to her. And anytime the blame for this lack of concern, or this lack of options, is placed only on the woman, it is unfair and wrong.

Here’s some more truth: it is wrong (un-constitutional in the U.S.) for the government (or anyone else) to interfere in a woman’s reproductive business. When a woman is forced by law, or even by the righteousness of the majority, to have sex, or not have sex, or have babies, or not have babies, or any other permutation of “I’ll take over running your private parts now, thank you, because you’re doing it all wrong” then that woman has lost a basic human right. And, just because we don’t like what she’s doing with that right, we aren’t allowed to take it away. Not if we want to claim any of our own rights are unalienable.

Here’s the REAL problem: How can we provide women with better alternatives? Free and easy birth control, sex education, the expectation that she – not her husband or mother or mother-in-law – determine whether and when she makes babies. Good jobs and medical care that guarantee every child is well-fed and provided for, and that the health of the mother and child are paramount. Guaranteed college education for all children, even adopted and foster children.

When woman are safe and secure, and babies are guaranteed care, and even orphans have a future, then the incidence of abortion will fall – possibly to nil. When abortion is no longer the best choice, it will no longer be the first choice.

But very few people – especially on the Right – want to dedicate so many resources to other people’s babies. So, they switch the argument around and blame the woman with few choices for making the wrong choice. That gets the selfish people off the hook. From then on, it’s just a case of shouting really loudly so no one notices the real inequities.

When women have to choose between abortion and the loneliness and desperation that is their lot if they have an autistic child, it is not a surprise they choose abortion. They can be sure that no one will help, no one will care, and no one will forgive them for doing it wrong. There will be no education, or aid, or acceptance. Given how certain and universal this neglect is, it is easy to see why a sensible, compassionate mother might still chose abortion. What a sad world to bring a needy child into.

We need to change the equation. We need to stop arguing about whether abortion is right or wrong – it is wrong – or whether a woman’s right to privacy supersedes the fact that abortion is wrong – it does supersede. Instead, we need to create and offer a dozen better choices. It’s as simple as that.

I know it’s tempting – when a prenatal test for autism is moments away – to jump on the anti-abortion bandwagon. It seems sensible that we can stop the genocide by outlawing abortion. But it won’t. First, it will not matter if abortion is restricted. If it isn’t completely banned, then there will obviously be exceptions that will allow aborting “defective” children. At the very least, there will be a burgeoning illegal abortion market, as long as autistic children are seen as the worst fate possible. Besides, the “Pro-Life” cult is not the solution to the problem – it is actually a primary cause of the problem.

Pro-Lifers have nothing to offer that helps in any way. Though it would make sense for them to do so, they don’t deal with any of the reasons women feel compelled to abort. The Pro-Lifers aren’t about fixing anything. And they sure aren’t going to help us promote acceptance for autistics, and build social programs that offer substantial help to the parents of autistic children. And the Pro-Lifers will never spend a minute trying to help those children as they transition into adulthood and have to deal with reproduction on their own. In short, the Pro-Life movement never did anyone any good, and they aren’t likely to change real soon.

The solution is fairly straightforward. If you want to avoid women aborting autistic children wholesale, then you need to give them alternatives and truth. Doctors need to be educated and instructed to understand what autism really is, and that autistics are whole human beings with the same value and hope for a future that other children have. They need to be told that it is unethical to push a young mother toward hopelessness, and that the correct response to a genetic test showing the possibility of autism is to refer the mother to a counselor with a real expertise in raising autistic children. Someone with hope and resources and options to offer.

Unless we find something helpful to offer the mothers of needful children, we have no way of preventing a desperate choice. Joining the Pro-Lifers is simply an admission that we’ve given up trying to offer real alternatives. And that would be such a shameful admission for the Neurodiversity movement to make.

r.b. said...

I am a conservative democrat, raised catholic. I think Roe v Wade was wrong, but we are here and abortion is legal. I've made the comparison to slavery, where evil was justified. I just don't think we know the repercussions of 1 in 3 pregnancies (1 in 2 for blacks) will have upon the country. When abortion was legalized in Japan after WWII they ended up with a generation lost to take care of the elders. There simply were not enough people born to take care of the society. Obviously, they got around it somehow...

I had to wrestle with my conscience mightily to vote for Kerry. I just didn't vote for years on the presidential ticket since it abortion was ALWAYS a deciding factor. But Joe, I hope you see that the republican party has always thrown it out there because it is a sure fire way to win. They've never done anything to change it, and have used it as a wedge to get into power, and perform questionable practices. I think God sees their hypocrisy, and judges them accordingly, for pulling the wool over many good people's eyes. It is a sham, and it may just work again this year. Can you see that? I have also known many a good christian to abort a pregnancy to avoid condemnation. God sees that, too.

There have been no abortions, that I know of, in my family. One niece had a child at 15. Family support, love of children, not punishing the innocent...these are our ways, and I am proud to say so.One of my God-children's mother, because of her age, was giving a test prenatally that determined if the child could be Downs, and tested "positive". They went ahead with the pregnancy, and low and behold, she wasn't Downs.

Mother Teresa once said that America was one of the poorest nations on earth, willing to deny life to their greatest asset, their children.

Nothing will change as long as we are polarized on abortion, left vs. right.In the beginning, abortion clinics welcomed the pro-lifers and worked with them to help young women make the hard choices. It hasn't been that way for years, as extremists took over both sides. We have no choice but to work together again, for the good of the country. Judgmentalism on both sides only assures the present mess will never change. I so wish there was a middle ground, based on the reality that abortion should be the last choice.

The T4 experiment, killing of "ballastexitenz" was based on eugenic thught that came out of America. "Life unworthy of life" was taken up full force in Germany, beginning with the killing of one severely handicapped child, born with a leg and part of an arm missing, and also blind. Baby Knauer, in 1938, and his death set off the T4 killing spree.

I know how deeply you feel about the sanctity of life. I don't blame you for your feelings. Sarah Palin accepted her handicapped child without question, and you HAVE to admire her for that. But I am just cynical enough to believe she is being used to keep corporate America in power, spreading their greed on the backs of the common American, and their backs are about to break. If you discount their stances on abortion, who do you think would be the better leader?

You have made a very valid point in your blogpost. It is something to consider, and needs to get out there. In the search for easy lives, we are becoming monsters. Were that there were more people who would stand up to the nightmare of what we are doing, both left and right.

I remember being in 3rd grade and thinking, what would make us any different from the Germans who committed such atrocities? That question always nags my conscience. I know your conscience is clear, but don't be fooled by wolves in sheep's clothing...

Sorry for the novel...

Joseph said...

As a non-religious person who has been pro-choice since I can remember, I have to admit that the issue of prenatal genetic testing has given me pause, and a reason to think through the issue more thoroughly.

Consider, for example, whether fetuses have any rights. Suppose someone intentionally injures a pregnant woman, and as a result the fetus dies. Is this a crime? I would think so. And I doubt it's like a "property damage" sort of thing. Clearly, fetuses have some rights.

The viability argument is difficult to buy as well, because young babies are not viable on their own either, and no one would suggest that infanticide should be permitted. You are clearly not forced to keep children you don't want, but you aren't forced to keep unborn children either.

The rape argument is weak too, in my opinion. Consider the case where the child resulting from a rape is born. Is infanticide permitted in this case? Of course not. But somehow, before birth, this is considered OK. And again, you are not forced to keep the child. You have to endure a pregnancy, sure, but I don't think having to endure an abortion, with all its risks and side-effects, is much better. Plus you have to balance the rights of the mother with the rights of the fetus, which as I noted, exist.