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Thursday, November 26, 2009

The WSJ: Sarah Palin & Me The Joy Of A Child With Down Syndrome

Lon Jacobs wrote a very insightful piece for The Wall Street Journal: Sarah Palin & Me
Sarah Palin and I have little in common politically. I disagree with her on foreign policy, economic policy and Roe v. Wade—I am a pro-choice Democrat.

But one thing Mrs. Palin and I share is that we're both parents of beautiful children who happen to have intellectual disabilities. And much as I disagree with Mrs. Palin on various political issues, I was struck when she talked about the cruel attacks on her son Trig in a TV interview last week.


I had a personal taste of this at a conference I recently attended for children with disabilities. An obstetrician told me excitedly about a new blood test that will allow pregnant women to discover if the child they are carrying has Down syndrome. The good news, he told me, is that we will no longer have to worry about "unfortunate births."

This doctor intended no offense. But his comment reflects a prevailing attitude that presumes we would all be better off if these children are eliminated before they are born.

I'll admit that my views are influenced by my 13-year-old daughter Molly, a vibrant child with her own dreams and personality. To us, she is not defined by her disability but by the joy she has brought into our lives.


Unfortunately, there is a another category of people who say they are pro-choice but ought to be characterized as aggressively pro-abortion. These are the people who heap venom and ridicule on Mrs. Palin for bringing Trig into the world. Their views should be troubling to all, especially people who want respect for a woman's right to choose.

At their most vulgar, these attacks are like Erik Sean Nelson's item on the Huffington Post this summer. "Palin to run in '12 on More Retardation Platform," screamed the headline. Mrs. Palin's policies, he wrote, "will increase jobs because Wal-Mart is building new stores each day and someone has to be a greeter." He added that she would achieve her goal of smaller government "because fewer Americans will have the cognitive ability to hold a government job."

Mr. Nelson, a comedy writer, later apologized and the Huffington Post removed the post. But it is just one example of the strong "eugenic overtones" that Gary Bauer and Daniel Allot in Politico found in much of the coverage of Trig Palin.


I have no magic answers. I do have a beautiful daughter who lights up my world when I look into her trusting little face, who enriches our family with her life, and whose big-heartedness brings out the best in those who know her. I sometimes wonder how many Americans deprive themselves of that same joy because of an aggressive message that abortion is the only sensible choice.

In my mind, President Bill Clinton had it about right when he called for abortion to be safe, legal and rare. If that is to be more than just a convenient political spin, we who support a woman's right to choose should do our part to celebrate the life side of choice.

Mr. Jacobs is general counsel for News Corporation.

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