Thursday, September 4, 2008

Governor Palin, Down Syndrome, and Humanity

One way or another, barriers will be broken this year when the results of our presidential election are known in November. I cannot recall a more important time for a country to take stock of itself, determine where to go from here, and to act on that determination.

This blog has never been intended to be a platform for discussion of "party" politics. This post, though it may smack of such politics, is not intended as such.
I have stated before and I will reiterate now that I am socially and fiscally of a Conservative mindset. I realize that many of my real life and online friends do not share my beliefs and determinations on such matters, and I have been fortunate enough to have encountered some good souls who can provoke serious thought and deliberation on various topics in this arena without rancor and strife.

I do, however, draw a few hard lines. One of them has to do with abortion. This is the first reason that I am feeling pretty darn positive about Governor Sarah Palin's nomination as Vice-Presidential candidate on the McCain ticket. In case you haven't already heard, Governor Palin is the proud mother of a 4-month old boy who has Down Syndrome.

Are you aware that, according to at least one review of the available scientific literature, up to 92% of children who are prenatally determined - typically via amniocentesis - to have Down Syndrome are terminated prenatally? Do you ever wonder how close we are to having a prenatal test for autism, at least one that could determine statistical likelihood? What concerns does the possibility of such a test cause you to consider?
Perhaps Sarah Palin had an "amnio", perhaps she didn't. If she felt, as my wife and I did during all three pregnancies, that the results of an amniocentesis would not result in our deciding to terminate our unborn child, then I'm guessing she declined for health reasons. As we declined.

Regardless, we now have a vice-presidential candidate whose gender - she would, of course, become the first female VP in American history - is being, if not overshadowed, complemented by her role as the very-new parent of a child with special needs. And this role is what caused her to assert the following statement during last night's candidacy acceptance speech:

"And in April, my husband, Todd, and I welcomed our littlest one into the world, a perfectly beautiful baby boy named Trig. From the inside, no family ever seems typical.

That's how it is with us.

Our family has the same ups and downs as any other — the same challenges and the same joys.

Sometimes even the greatest joys bring challenge.

And children with special needs inspire a special love.

To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters.

I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House. "
This is music to my ears, and provides an incandescent spark of hope that perhaps, if Governor Palin does indeed become the Vice President of the United States of America, the disability community will have an important ally in Washington.

Here is One Dad's best wishes that, whatever the outcome of this political contest, Trig Palin will thrive at all stages of his precious life, and that he will touch us all and in turn be touched by us in ways that promote our ... well ... our humanity.

Go Trig! Go Sarah!

Note to readers: Please take the time to read this important post by Joel Smith - "An Open Letter to Sarah Palin".


nicocoer said...

I too applaud her choice to keep Trig- From the photos he seems absolutely beautiful!

And more so, she DID get the pre-natal testing, which is certainly a positive thing. My understanding is that she did it in order to make sure that any complications were noted and could be addressed, rather than to have the pregnancy terminated. I support this, as it means she has had time to prep her household and family to address any special needs Trig might have there.

However, applauding her just yet may not be entirely on score- she's still the same woman who cut the fuding for special education and support services in her state. I think it brings into question if she understands the realities for those with disabilities or who care for those with disabilities in the lower- and middle-classes. I'm going to be looking into this further- I won't be voting for her either way, but I'd like to know how our Special Education and Support Services will fair should her ticket win the election. :)

Angela said...

She really had a beautiful was music to my ears too.

As to the cutting funding...she didn't. It looks that way on paper and the DNC is using it because most don't look deeper, but she broke up the agencies into separate ones. She did not cut spending, she merely itemized the funds.

Angela said...

Article on what actually happened.

r.b. said...

I am a conservative democrat. I want the best of all worlds!

I did watch her speech, and was delighted by her acceptance of her child, just putting it out there that it was her choice to have her child. At least, a discussion will be started...

leila said...

I just wanted to know, why conservatives think that advocating against abortion as one of her priorities make someone fit for the presidency or vice-presidency? Why conservatives want to dictate their values and include an anti-science instruction of intelligent design in our schools? Why is it that someone who advocate for banning books in a library and firing the librarian who stood against censorship, is fit to be president of the World's largest democracy? Only if you want to turn this country into a teocracy where women are persecuted for not following the government's values.

I want to vote for the party and the people that value freedom, democracy, individual rights. Sarah Palin to me is a disgrace and a tremendous step backward for this country.

leila said...

Sorry, I just need to complete my comment: while she's so outspoken about abortion and abstinence, where's her knowledge on foreign policy? When asked about the war in Iraq, recently, she had nothing to say but "I'm too busy as a governor, I didn't have much time to focus in Iraq", even though her own son is about to be deployed. Her other statement on Iraq was that the war was a mission from God.

I want the president to be extremely versed in foreign affairs, not someone who's going to hole up over the next few weeks to study some talking points given to her by the McCain team. This lady has never traveled to another country until last year (and that only because she had to, as a governor). Someone with this lack of intellectual curiosity to me, is like a female version of George W. Bush.

Steve D said...

Hi Nicocoer and Angela,
Interesting exchange regarding special ed funding and support. My first response when reading Nicocoer's statement:
"she's still the same woman who cut the fuding for special education and support services in her state. I think it brings into question if she understands the realities for those with disabilities or who care for those with disabilities in the lower- and middle-classes."
is that reduced funding does not go hand-in-hand with decrease in quality of service. In fact, an improved service delivery infrastructure could achieve both ends simultaneously. It bothers me that only in the world of business is there an honest attempt to combine reduced cost and increased efficiency, and I think government needs more business-like thinking.

Steve D said...

Hi Leila -
Do you feel better having gotten that off your chest? :)
It may surprise you to know that I don't feel like I speak for all conservatives, and therefore it is difficult for me to answer your questions as posed.

I would like to return the volley, however: You seem to be calling into question the foreign policy experience of the vice-presidential Republican candidate while willfully ignoring the extreme and profound differences in experience between the Presidential candidates, which is a tad more important.

I find it interesting that you equate lack of world travel to lack of intellectual curiosity, and imagine that many non-world-travelling intellectuals may take umbrage at that attitude.

You deem her "outspoken" about abortion and abstinence, while I see someone who need not say much at all, as actions speak louder than words.

Your mention of the book banning is the first I've heard of that. A brief Google search turned up several things, all of which link back to this quote in Time magazine:
"She asked the library how she could go about banning books," he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor."
So this is an anecdotal story, unverified, in which the article author puts two things in a paragraph (asked about banning books, attempted to fire librarian) and implies the two are connected. This is what I would refer to as a subtle hit piece.
Worth mentioning is that no books were banned, and no librarians were fired. For all we know the librarian refused to hang her political posters on the bulletin board next to her opponent's. We don't know, do we?

Anyway, Leila, whose comments I have read at the Parents Forum and Autism Vox and very much enjoyed, please note that I specifically noted in my post that this one is not about "party politics", but instead is about appreciating someone who values their special needs child, is not afraid to stand up against those who would promote an agenda that results in abortions of "imperfect" children, and who has made a commitment to advocate for the special needs community in Washington.
That's all.

Mrs. D'Nealian said...

LOVE to see that you blogged about this!!! I thought of you and several of my other friends when she made the statement about "having a friend to be your advocate." :)

Have I told your family lately...I LOVE YOU GUYS!?!?!?


Mrs. D'Nealian ;)

Alyric said...

Hi Steve

Those of us north of the border are looking at all this with great interest:) Couple of questions -
1. You seem to be saying that palin didn't cut disability funding, it just looked that way because she separated the agencies. OK, I'm a fiscal conservative, in fact all Aussies are - no one wins on any side of politics downunder unless they can prove their fiscal conservativness. Social is a different matter. However, Alaska is a small State and breaking agencies up isn't wise fiscally because higher proportions of their revenue got to admin costs, so what has she done exactly?

2. If you really want to see meaningful change in say, services for adults, then socially conservative policies won't do it. After all they never ever have in all the history of the US, have they? I recall it took Roosevelt's New Deal to kick start the economy after the Great Depression.

CS said...

"who has made a commitment to advocate for the special needs community in Washington.
That's all."

More importantly, has the McCain campaign engaged the disability community? Obama's has and as a matter of fact the disability community is the one that constructed his policy.

Do you really think fiscal conservatives give a damn about people with disabilities other than rhetoric? I understand they will fully fund wars in Iraq and elsewhere, but when was the last time you caught one on tape talking about disability issues with any knowledge?

leila said...

Steve, the lack of international travel was not the only thing I pointed out to show her lack of intellectual curiosity, see her response regarding the Iraq war as well, and the various other clips and interviews with her. I consider someone who advocates creationism in schools to be of an inferior intellectual level, not to mention religious interference in matters of State and education.

I'm very confident on Barack Obama being well versed on matters of international relations and politics. Not only that, he's got more tact and diplomatic skills and ability to reach out to the other side, than McCain and especially Palin. Also, Obama is way better regarded in the international arena than both McCain and Palin. If you have a chance to read international newspapers and blogs, you'll see people all over the world are rooting for Obama because they are tired of the arrogant politics of the Republican Party, and they see Obama as the better side of America, as a hope for more peaceful times. Also, do you remember how Obama attracted thousands of people to see him in Germany?

CS said...

So Steve, you give no weight to the fact that this black man, facing all kinds of discrimination and still managed to get into Harvard, become president of the Law review, engages the disability community like no other presidential candidate has, is somehow on equal footing with Palin? Please. That RNC convention was a disgrace. Hardly a minority in the convention. Why do you think that is? Even Steele said it was depressing.

Now the RNC has a new fear campaign. In previous years it was affirmative action and gays. This year, its fear of the intelligent (elite). How is Palin going to convince republicans in congress to spend more on education and services when they want to get rid of the Dept. of Education? The last 8 years have been terrible for the disability community. 97% of claims to the EEOC in the last eight years for ADA enforcement has been turned down. The Dept. of Education has failed to publish its progress report on IDEA for the last 5 years. Fact is, they don't give a damn about us.

Billy said...

You raise an important question about amniocentesis and whether or not it is right to abort due to disabilities.

There is a controversy going on as to whether Palin truly meant what she said about advocating on behalf of parents who have children with special needs. This controversy is generating some debate.

What do you think?

leila said...

ABC has the skinny on the book censorship:

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about the 92% of aborted, Downs syndrome fetuses. This high number would seem to indicate to me that those having these abortions are both pro-life and pro-choice, since polls show that 56% of women are pro-life. In other words, there seem to be women who are pro-life choosing abortions when they find themselves in this position. Unless somehow these 92%-fetuses are ONLY being conceived by pro-choice women!

I consider myself to be pro-choice, and at 42 years old had my second child. I had genetic testing done but no amnio. I wouldn't have had an abortion if Downs would have turned up in the results, but would have if my health were in danger or if there were other results that indicated no hope for fetal survival.

My point is that, when it comes to abortion, one's stated position does not always dictate one's action. A pro-lifer can (and apparently does) choose abortion in some circumstances, and a pro-choicer can choose not to abort. This seems to be the very essence of the pro-choice position. Whether they admit it or not, the pro-life women who choose abortion are -- by their own actions -- pro-choice.

This is a very sticky issue that does not adhere conveniently to party lines.