Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dear Jezebel: Real friends don't count chromosomes.

According to the Washington Times, there was a couple planning to abort their child diagnosed with Down syndrome. A priest made a deal with the couple--if he could find a good home for the baby before their state's deadline for late-term abortions, the couple would not abort. The priest's church reached out through Facebook for interested parties, and was soon inundated with offers to adopt the baby. According to the article:
The president and founder of the International Down Syndrome Coalition, Diane Grover, stressed the importance of informing couples who are considering abortion for babies with Down syndrome that adoption is a viable option, pointing to the fast and overwhelming response her organization received about this one unborn child as an amazing example.
Now this seems like a story everyone can get behind, doesn't it? A community rallied around a couple and got them the resources they needed in order to no longer desire abortion. Both pro-life and pro-choice people can appreciate one less abortion due to increased support for abortion-minded women and couples. Right?

Well, yes, I think so. In most cases. Just not with Jezebel's Katie Baker:
...But the woman in this story is still being coerced into carrying to term.
So many mistreated babies and kids with Downs live terrible lives. Instead of throwing resources at a nonviable fetus, why can't the church help children with Down syndrome that are already alive? Because anti-abortion folks care more about fetuses with fairytale narratives than actual babies.
There's so much stupid in this quote I need to take it piece by piece.

1. "But the woman in this story is still being coerced..." So offering to help find an adoptive family is coercion now? That's awkward. Just so I understand: pro-lifers are jerks for not trying to help women get through crisis pregnancies, and pro-lifers are jerks for trying to help women get through crisis pregnancies. Is that right? The only people who truly care about women are those who either stay uninvolved or encourage abortion, yeah?

The woman is not being coerced. The priest offered to find an adoptive family. The woman could have said "No, I'm not interested in doing that" and continued with her plan to abort. She chose to wait and see if the child could be adopted instead. It's biased to assume (and condescending to insist) that if a woman makes any choice other than to abort, she must not be thinking for herself--that it must be coercion.

2. "So many mistreated babies and kids with Downs live terrible lives."

2a. The solution to people being mistreated is to fight against the mistreatment, not to kill off the people being mistreated.

2b. So many kids in general live terrible lives. So many people live terrible lives! It's ridiculous to suggest that you are somehow in the wrong if you try to help some people without managing to help everyone. What an unhelpful, impossible standard.

3. "Instead of throwing resources at a nonviable fetus..." Not that viability is a reasonable measure of "personhood" anyway, but for the record: fetal viability hovers around 24 weeks, and can be even earlier. This fetus may well have been viable at the time the priest entered the picture, and if not, the fetus would be viable very soon thereafter.

First the author tries to undermine this fetus's life by talking about how terrible life is for people with Down syndrome (I believe families of people with Down syndrome have plenty to say about that), and then she tries to undermine it with the red herring of nonviability. Classy.

4. "...why can't the church help people with Down syndrome that are already alive?"

4a. "Already alive?" Not to impose science on you, but the fetus is already alive. I thought pro-choicers who denied that the fetus is alive were a thing of the past, but (embarrassingly) apparently not.

4b. As I said, it's counter-productive to tell people they can't help anyone unless they're helping everyone. The only way these suggestions make sense is if you assume fetal life is less worthy of protection or respect than the lives of other human beings which is, of course, a distinctly pro-choice assumption. Way to beg the question.

4c. The church can help born people with Down syndrome. And the church does. Along with helping plenty of other born people, too, by the way. Not to mention all the assistance that pro-lifers of all religious persuasions provide outside of the church, through such organizations as the International Down Syndrome Coalition.

4d. The particular priest in this story, Rev. Thomas Vander Woude, comes from a family marked for their support of people with Down syndrome. Vander Woude's youngest brother, Joseph, has Down syndrome, and several years ago Vander Woude's father actually gave his life to save Joseph's. ...I couldn't make this stuff up.

5. "Because anti-abortion folks care more about fetuses with fairytale narratives than actual babies." Yeah. I'm sure the families offering to change their entire lives by adopting a child with Down Syndrome are just doing it to keep our fetus fairytales going. I'm sure Vander Woude's family members, who have raised and supported his brother with Down syndrome, are just perpetuating a decades-long ruse to cover up their fetus-centric mentality. If only we all cared about babies as much as Katie Baker--then instead of seeking (and being) loving families, we could assume these children's lives will be terrible and kill them off early.

And people say no one is "pro-abortion."

See the rest of brother and sister Josh and Grace Curley's sweet message here.


Jameson Graber said...

These people really have no shame, do they?

Rose T. Sullivan said...

Thank you for this deeply reasoned and articulate response. I LOVED that story, I know many parents who love and cherish thier children, despite seemingly insurmountable physical and mental health issues. To know there are people out there who view loving, helping hands as coercive disheartens the bejeebers out of me, and makes me ponder what that phrase "you learn what you live" means for Ms. Baker and so many like her who cannot hear the ignorance, bitterness, and savagery of thier own arguments. How have the women in our society become so heartless and jaded.

Dolce said...

Thank you SO much for writing this! As an aside, there is actually data on the happiness of those with down syndrome, one study found that 99% were happy with their lives! The numbers are actually amazing:

It seems actual studies completely contradict Katie Baker's premise.

Seriously, Jezebel just makes me so angry sometimes.

Crystal Kupper said...

Best blog I've read from you guys yet!

KB said...

Spot on. I like Jezebel for some articles regarding equal pay, egalitarian relationships, etc. But get any of them on abortion and you can see their minds start engaging in doublethink just to support the point they think the "Feminist label" by default has It is such groupthink.

Jennie said...

Great blog! Jezebel is so misleading and evil to spend her time encouraging and praising abortion! Why?? What does she get out of knowing other women are suffering after abortions? Sad.

Awww. said...

Jezebel isn't a person, dear heart. It's a web site with many contributors with varying views. You're cute.

lala said...

"It's ridiculous to suggest that you are somehow in the wrong if you try to help some people without managing to help everyone. What an unhelpful, impossible standard."
Yes. Yesyesyesyes. YES!! Same with the "are you planning on adopting?" thing

Coyote said...

Here's a useful video which responds to the whole killing for compassion argument made by Jezebel:

tirsden frozenrayn said...

I'm one of those people with mental health issues who grew up in a terrible home, and the pregnancy that led to me being born was most definitely unplanned. Does that mean I should have been aborted? No, of course not. Does it mean the people who managed to get knocked up with me should have given me up for adoption? YES. Sadly, that was not how it played out.

Does it mean my life now is an utter waste and I would be better off dead? Hell no, although there were times in the past that I might have said otherwise. But that was purely based on how I was being treated by the people who will never deserve the title "parents" and other people I ended up befriending because my childhood taught me that abuse was normal and that I somehow deserved it.

Now I am free of those people and that mindset, and while it is difficult to trust new people out of fear they will be the same bad people again, I do have some friends. Life isn't perfect, but it's liveable and certainly much better than it was before. I hope it will get better as time goes on, and that is the point: I hope. After so many years of abuse that could very well have ended my life, I still have the ability to hope... and life is okay. Not a bowl of roses, but okay. Worth living. Yes.

Glad to find your blog, and that I am not as alone as I thought in the secular pro-life-ist corner of the world. In fact, I cringe at calling myself pro-life due to what the right-wing, religious whackos have done to the concept. Be that as it may, I know life is precious and worth living. And that's saying a lot, coming from a suicide survivor who still has very depressed days... but on those days I play video games and sleep, because I know it'll get better again once the mental funk has lifted.

Rock on.

Kelsey said...

So glad you're here, Tirsden. I wish pro-choicers would realize how hurtful their rhetoric is to the supposed "poster children for abortion" who have to hear that crap. You're right, your life IS worth living, and I wish you the best as you continue to rise above your circumstances.

FYI, there's a great community of supportive pro-life, non-whackos on our facebook page, Hope you'll join.

Paul Boncher said...

Not a fan of MMA... But the relevance is quite apparent. Personally I think anyone who supports aborting a fetus with down's syndrome should have to get in the ring with Garrett... Just saying.