I have to get something off my chest. It may start a wee firestorm, but I can't not say anything. I feel so strongly about it that I've just used a double negative.
I cannot stand it when a pregnant woman states that she won't get screening done for particular diseases because, "No matter what, we wouldn't terminate anyway."
First of all, I'm not saying that the option to screen or test shouldn't be 100% the prerogative of the mother and father - it is. I'm also not saying that everyone should choose to test if they're a responsible parent. Some tests are dangerous and scary at best, and others provide sketchy information that could potentially scare the bejeezus out of expecting parents. Those are all fantastic reasons to choose not to opt for a screening.
But please, for the love of God, stop saying that you won't test because you wouldn't ever choose to terminate. YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY KNOW. PERIOD. You have absolutely no freaking clue what you would do if you were told your unborn child had a particular disease until faced with that information. I don't care how firm you think your stand on the issue is, you cannot know.
Secondly, there are many other reasons to have testing done that don't include deciding whether or not to continue the pregnancy. Preparedness is a big one - avoiding the sheer horror of a labor and delivery room announcement of "Uh... wait a minute. Something's not quite right," would be worth it to many people. Preparing loved ones for your baby's special needs. Lining up specialists for the birth and any treatment that might be needed after. The list of things that could be gained by knowing these things in advanced is too long to enumerate here.
Finally, the reason I hate this statement most is this:
By making that statement you are implicitly judging those of us who have made that decision. And it hurts.
None of us who have gone through having to choose to terminate a pregnancy so late in the game would wish that horror on anyone else. But we would appreciate enough empathy to at least phrase your decision in a way that doesn't imply we were amoral parents for ever even having testing done - let alone acting on the knowledge it revealed.
I have beautiful, loving, caring friends who had to terminate for disease that people swear up and down they "could never" terminate for. Down's, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy. And do you know why? Because you rarely see the true faces of any of these diseases. The average Down's child is not Corky from "Life Goes On". The more painful end of the spectrum includes some truly horrifying suffering for the child, and these women made a decision that was perhaps more difficult than mine because they face the judgment and scrutiny of unthinking people every day of their lives. They're desire to save their child was no less than mine, and the pain they live with is no less. It is this sisterhood of women that leaps into my mind when someone makes that comment to me: "We would never terminate."
So when you call to tell me you aren't having testing done, please really think about your reasons before you blurt them out. And if you give me the wrong answer, don't be surprised when I get my hackles up.