Saturday, February 25, 2012

Abortion of babies with Down syndrome is chromosomal racism

I am humbled to see that I did not invent the notion of genetic diversity, I borrowed it unwittingly from my greatest hero; Dr Jerome Lejeune. See his quote below. I must have read it and internalized the message. That is a good thing; internalizing the ethos of future saints (see the excellent article about the process of his canonization here) however I must be sure to give the Good Doctor credit.

“Chromosomal racism is brandished like a flag of freedom. … That this negation of medicine, of all the biological brotherhood that links mankind, is the sole practical application of the knowledge of Trisomy 21 more than breaks my heart … Protecting the abandoned-what a reactionary, retrograde, fundamentalist, inhuman idea!” 
Dr Jerome Lejeune

These words were entered into his private diary when he realized how his seminal discovery of Trisomy 21, the cause of Down syndrome, was co-opted by the March of Dimes to conduct the search-and-destroy missions of amnio centesis. He devoted the rest of his life to researching a cure for the disorder so that the horrific 92% rate of abortion would be eliminated. . I consider it an honor to continue his quest to eliminate abortion of  those with Down syndrome in my blogs, in KIDS and with my book "A Special Mother is Born". 
Today on retreat at St Edmund's in Mystic, CT, I offered up my apostolate to Dr Lejeune and prayed for his intercession. 

Bookmark and Share


Faith on the High Wire said...

How I love Dr. Lejeune and his wonderful foundation. Thank you for sharing his quote.



Von said...

I see how it is disablist but how is it racist?

Leticia said...

Von, it depends on whether you see those with Down syndrome as their own race. It is a construct which offers a useful comparison, because its bigotry to say "people with these characteristics do not offer as much to society as we do". Margaret Sanger and her eugenicist friends used this same mentality to target poor whites, Hispanics and blacks for contraception and later, abortion.

Von said...

I take your point of course but strictly speaking racism can only apply to people of colour.People with Down's Syndome are so often labelled as disabled or in other ways, it seems unhelpful to give them yet another label unless it is simply 'differently abled'
I don't see people with Down's Syndrome as 'their own race' because it is separatist, not inclusive and sets them apart, which is the last thing they need.

Leticia said...

Von, try to take the good Doctor's comments in context; he was drawing an analogy to help those who would try to eliminate them think twice about their motives, I am sure he was NOT trying to create a false, divisive construct. Do yourself a favor, and read his biography, "Life is a Blessing". You would be hard pressed to find a more self sacrificing, accepting man. He spent his entire life serving families of those with Down syndrome though none of his children had it.

Von said...

I'm sure, I have.I wasn't taking issue with 'the good doctor' rather with your use of the term in a modertn context.