I have been a resident of Steamboat for just more than a year now and I am an avid daily reader of the Steamboat Today. While I don’t agree with every opinion piece you print, I appreciate the fact that you try to present a counterpoint as well. However, the piece by Rob Douglas that you printed Friday (“Are we not better than this?”) in which he responded to Joanne Palmer’s op-ed piece about Ann Coulter’s use of the word “retard” doesn’t make any sense to me and I found it highly offensive.
First, comparing the abortion rates of Down syndrome babies to Coulter’s use of the word doesn’t even make sense. One has nothing to do with the other. But what I find most offensive is how Mr. Douglas essentially makes the case that parents choosing to abort a Down syndrome baby is somehow as offensive as Coulter’s use of derogatory terms.
I am a father of one with another on the way, and I am fortunate enough to only have to imagine what it would be like to face the reality of expecting a child with a mental or physical impairment. Ask any expecting parent whether they are hoping for a boy or girl and every single one will say it doesn’t matter as long as he or she is healthy. So what do parents do when they find out their child will not be healthy as they had hoped? Whatever they decide, it is an intensely personal and excruciating decision and should be treated as such.
Are there advances in medicine that soon will make it possible for expecting parents to have advance knowledge of features (eye color, hair color, etc.)? Absolutely. Will there be parents who choose to have “designer babies”? Yes. But parents choosing to abort a child with Down syndrome (or any other impairment) is not about having the perfect child. These parents have to take into consideration the quality of life for that child, the strain (emotionally, physically and financially) it puts on the entire family, and if they feel they can handle and commit to raising a special needs child.
Mr. Douglas’ piece flies directly in the face of every parent who has ever had to face such a daunting decision, and I don’t understand why you felt it made good sense to print this particular column. I think this particular opinion should have been one for Mr. Douglas to share in one-on-one situations as opposed to forcing it upon all of us.