Down Syndrome individuals contribute to society


I am writing in response to Todd Raleigh’s letter (“Parents consider quality of life when deciding to abort,” Jan. 12).

Speaking of ignorance-based attitudes, sir, yours is one of true ignorance-what you consider facts are not facts at all. You stated that about one-third of Down Syndrome individuals (the correct terminology, not “patients” as you call them) die by age 1, while one-half are expected to live no longer than to age 4.

With all due respect, sir, where are you coming up with this ancient information? Treatment for those with Down Syndrome has improved by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years, and the age expectancy for those with DS is now in the mid-50s.

One-half of those born with DS are born with heart problems, most notably a hole in the heart, which is almost always corrected with surgery. I know many children who have had this surgery, and they’re doing wonderfully, with no other cardiac issues.

There are health-related issues for those with DS, but there is also treatment, and these individuals are being helped with their setbacks. Services available to DS individuals include physical therapy, speech therapy, special education and many others.

I whole-heartedly agree with Eric Vogeler’s argument that DS is not an ethical reason to abort a baby (“Fascist medicine? Prenatal screening for Down Syndrome devalues human life,” Jan. 10).

My child, who has DS, has taught my family and everyone she meets that the world is much better and brighter with her and those like her in it.

People like Todd Raleigh need to stop being so ignorant. Ignorance is the real disability.

Jean AbernathyLocal Resident