During the summer of 2014, the world’s media recounted the story of Baby Gammy with Down syndrome, who was born through surrogacy and abandoned by his intended parents (Gènéthique press review on August 4th, 2014). Last week, the Sunday Telegraph published a report by a woman who explained how the abandonment of this child because he has Down syndrome, helped her to see this condition in a different light.
One of the questions that Claire Harvey asked herself is “why the parents of Down syndrome children say that their child is a gift?” Now, the answer is perfectly clear: “Down syndrome children are just children. They’re not defined by their genetic make-up. They are perfect“. And “families talk about the complete delight they enjoy in their kids“.
She went on to add that: “It’s shocking, today, to reflect that our grandparents, and all the hundreds of thousands of generations before, faced the real risk that any baby might die in its first few days of life, or be born with a deformity or a disability.” What have we gained today? asks C. Harvey. Choice. The choice whether or not to implant an embryo or to terminate a pregnancy. But in return, “what guarantee does any baby have? No child, even the most perfectly formed infants born into the safety of a tertiary hospital in a glittering city, comes with a warranty.“
With the development of screening for diseases such as, for instance, Huntington’s disease or even breast cancer genes and the risk of disorders potentially carried by embryos, C. Harvey worries: “Will we soon be testing for autism? For asthma?” She “hopes not“.