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New Project to Save Down Syndrome Babies

The birth of a baby with Down Syndrome to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has drawn national attention to the staggering number of these babies who are aborted every year. A new international project may help to reduce these numbers. Anne F. Downey, New York State Director of Concerned Women for America (CWA) has launched a new project to reduce the 90 percent abortion rate for babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Developed in consultation with major Down syndrome groups in America, CWA has developed a brochure entitled “When you’ve learned that your baby may have Down Syndrome . . .  There is help and hope!” The brochure offers reassurance to families facing a prenatal diagnosis and provides them with a list of resources and support groups to help them learn more about their baby's opportunities. The brochure is available in English and Spanish and can be downloaded for free from the website. "The brochure features the faces of a number of children and adults with Down Syndrome,” said Downey  “Each of the persons featured in the brochure came to me in a special way and has his or her own wonderful story to tell. In the photos you can see the joy that these young people and their family members have. Just looking at them, you can see that there truly is help and hope." Downey said the idea of a brochure came to her in the spring of 2007 after attending a church service where  she was inspired by a young lady who has Down syndrome.  "As I sat there, the Holy Spirit hit me hard with the realization that 30 years from now there won't be many people with Down syndrome left. We will have killed most of them,” she said. “I knew I had to take action, but I didn't know what to do, so I left it in the hands of the Lord to show me." Shortly thereafter, Anne received the funding and the direction she needed to launch the mission. After consulting with the major Down syndrome groups and talking with families who are raising children with Down syndrome, Anne developed a simple bi-fold brochure. The brochure is timely, and not only because of the sudden popularity of the Alaskan governor. In December 2007, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a practice bulletin stating, "After the diagnosis of a chromosomal abnormality, the patient should receive detailed information, if known, about the natural history of individuals with the specific chromosomal finding. In many cases, it may be very helpful to refer the patient to a genetic counselor or clinical geneticist and national groups such as The National Down Syndrome Society or National Down Syndrome Congress to help the patient make an informed decision." The new brochure will allow busy OB/GYN doctors and other health care workers to provide expectant mothers with easy-to-read information, including a list of the major Down syndrome groups and related resources, so that pregnant women and their families can obtain support when facing test results that indicate a possibility of Down syndrome. Testing for fetal abnormalities has become routine medicine. In most cases, doctors use tests to screen pregnant women for the possibility of genetic abnormalities. If these tests show a probability that a woman may have a special needs child, further tests are done such as amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling (CVS), or a special ultrasound. “When tests indicate the possibility of Down syndrome, some physicians will place pressure on a pregnant woman to have an abortion,” writes CWA’s Leslie Smith. “Many expectant parents feel overwhelmed by such a prenatal diagnosis and may not understand that the test results can be inaccurate. They also may not understand the many opportunities and resources available today for people with Down syndrome. The result is a 90 percent abortion rate often based on lack of information, a lack of connecting with the excellent support services that are available, and/or outright pressure to abort.” Physicians and patients may also have outdated information regarding what life holds for a child with Down syndrome in the 21st century. Advances in medical technology have led to better management and understanding of Down Syndrome, and many individuals with this diagnosis lead productive lives with rewarding personal relationships. "Today, individuals with Down Syndrome are active participants in the educational, vocational, social and recreational aspects of our communities," says the National Down Syndrome Society. “One of the most frequently occurring chromosomal abnormalities, Down syndrome affects people of all ages, races and economic levels.  In fact, there are more opportunities than ever before for individuals with Down syndrome to develop their abilities, discover their talents and realize their dreams." "Special needs children can bring out the best in people.,” said CWA President Wendy Wright.  “They draw out compassion, patience, a joy for the simple things in life in people around them. In some ways, we need special needs people more than they need us." For a copy of the brochure, visit www.DownSyndromeBrochure.com   © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace. http://www.womenofgrace.com

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