STFU, Conservatives

After North Dakota passed its draconian anti-choice laws, many people hailed it as a victory for people with disabilities. Specifically, one of the laws made it illegal to terminate a pregnancy because of the fetus’ sex or because of ‘genetic defects’ such as Down syndrome.

There was a great piece in the NYT yesterday by a woman who’s the mother of a child with Down syndrome. She’s also a professor and researcher who’s working on a book about prenatal testing and reproductive decision-making. And her research about why women abort fetuses with Down syndrome found that they were all willing to travel out of state to terminate the pregnancy. Every person she interviewed saw the termination as protecting their child, not killing it for being imperfect. As one mother said: “There is no part of caring for an infant or school-aged child with Down syndrome that we didn’t think we could handle. We chose to terminate mostly on the basis of our understanding of the challenges and quality of life he and our family would face if/when he lived to be over age 21: his middle age, and end of life.” Another brought up the high incidence of sexual assault and rape for people with disabilities.

But more importantly, the author notes something that the greater pro-choice movement has been aware of for a long time: making abortion illegal doesn’t lower abortion rates. North Dakota is forcing pregnant people to either travel out of state for a termination or find a way to do it themselves. They’re not saving children with Down syndrome; they’re punishing parents who put a lot of thought into their decision and in many cases grieved the loss of a wanted child.

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