The heart. It’s most intricately tied to the soul and helps us navigate the waters of morality, choose compassion over complacency, and anchors us to love unconditionally in the most trying of circumstances. The heartbeat has the last say of life over death or death over life. We spend millions each year trying to keep our hearts beating as long as possible with new diets, more advanced science, and gym memberships. The human heart begins beating at three and a half weeks inside the womb. Typically before a mother discovers she’s pregnant, her baby’s heartbeat can be detected. I’ve read the article by Ruth Marcus, (“I would’ve aborted a fetus with Down syndrome. Women need that right,” March 9) and it’s the heart that relentlessly haunts me. So many heartbeats that have been stopped on the gesture of giving the mother a future she deserves. So many heartbeats stopped. Life. Then death. I am a mother who was bullied to abort my daughter - whom I cherished when she was just a prayer - based solely on her diagnosis of Down syndrome. And I take Ms. Marcus’s words personally. Many agree with Ms. Marcus, but I would like to pose questions and offer a different perspective. Ms. Marcus stated that “as tragic as it would have felt and ghastly as a second-trimester abortion would have been” she would have aborted her two children given a Ds diagnosis. I question, if this is a termination of a fetus, a clump of cells, what is so ghastly about an abortion? The truth is that it’s ghastly because it’s a formed human body with arms and legs, fingers and toes, head and heart, all of which are horrifically and brutally destroyed. She went on to say “-that these excruciating choices be left to individual women” Why are these choices excruciating? “The state can hijack your body” What is it called when our laws declare that we can’t commit suicide, sell our body parts, or ingest drugs that will harm or kill us? Don’t we have the right to choose what we do with our bodies? And what if there’s another body involved? Because the truth is that a fetus is only a fetus when the mother doesn’t want it. It’s a baby when she does. “I would have grieved the loss and moved on” If you are to grieve the loss of something, there had to be something there to lose. “this is not the child I would have wanted” The fact is that women who abort will never know if that’s a true statement. I didn’t believe I wanted a child with Down syndrome until I had a child with Down syndrome. And I can say without a shred of doubt or deceit that Emmy IS the child I wanted.
“I respect – I admire – families that knowingly welcome a baby with Down syndrome into their lives.” I don’t believe I deserve respect or admiration for not killing my child because I knew she had Ds in the womb. I’m just a mother. Loving my child. “But accepting that essential truth is different than compelling a woman to give birth to a child whose intellectual capacity will be impaired, whose life choices will be limited, whose health may be compromised.” The essential truth is if women knew the Truth, they would be compelled to give birth to a child with Down syndrome. The truth is that nearly 100% of people with Ds are happy with their lives, love who they are, and find life fulfilling. Nearly 100% of siblings say their brother or sister with Ds has made them a better person. And I personally don’t know one, out of thousands and thousands of women in my tribe, who would say that their child with Ds hasn’t increased their quality of life, grew the width and breadth of their love for others, and made them stronger mothers. I have a sacred duty to speak on behalf of my fellow Rockin mamas, and every perfect and priceless baby in the womb, out of the womb, child, and adult with Ds. The truth is that if every woman knew what life would be like with a child with Ds, every diagnosis would be celebrated. Doctors would come in with balloons and streamers, not a box of tissues and a pamphlet on abortion. The truth is that choosing life for a baby with Down syndrome must be an issue of the heart. We, as a society, need to see that people with Ds don’t take away from us, but only give to us. They can start companies, model, act, drive cars, work, become beauty queens, live independently. They give us smiles, laughter, hugs, and joy beyond comprehension. The truth is that our world needs more people with Down syndrome, not less. Because they have the biggest, purest, and gentlest of all hearts. And we’re a world that is quickly losing its own.