Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Rebecca Hagelin gets it

Somehow the readers of National Catholic Register didn't understand the importance of language when discussing a vulnerable population like children with Down syndrome. Register contributor and Faith and Family editor Danielle Bean and I called them to task here and here for their concern about political correctness when all we were asking for is a little sensitivity.
When celebrities use the word 'retard' as a pejorative, or write a filthy song like "Down Sydrome Girl" about a young woman with Down syndrome, I see this lovely innocent face of my eight year old and cringe.
Over 90% of babies with Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome are aborted, by people who don't think of them as fully human. Each time we join in the mockery of a person with Down syndrome, their personhood status in society is diminished.
Rebecca Hagelin shows in this opinion piece in the Washington Times, that she gets it.
For preborn children with disabilities, our culture's desire for perfect children too often proves deadly. Prenatal testing, now routine, spots markers of future disability or disease. Sometimes that testing saves lives. Most often, however, a prenatal diagnosis of disability such as Down syndrome spells death.

Children like Michael tend to suffer a gruesome fate. Nearly nine out of ten mothers who receive the news that they are carrying a child with Down syndrome choose to abort the pregnancy. They're afraid of the burdens, real and imagined, that accompany a less than perfect child.

Even our language betrays our conditional acceptance of children. How often do we ask a pregnant woman, "Do you want a boy or a girl," only to have her reply, "Either one … as long as it's healthy." Too often, the caveat is a sign of the mindset that rejects less than perfect children.

Well stated, Rebecca. Language reveals the contents of the heart. We watch our language, and we just might find ourselves becoming better people. Thanks to our special needs brothers and sisters.

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