January Event-in-a-Box: Fetal Abnormalities:I have written and re-written this blog article a few times. It is hard to find the right words for this topic because so much of the information that I found is heartbreaking. Amid all the tragedy around the world, “more love less hate” is the chant of much of our society. Ironically, a certain population has been given a death sentence from society and is even the target of “killing off” their entire population. This demographic of individuals has the capacity to love and empathize in a way that I believe more of us need to learn.
Iceland’s attempt to eliminate an entire population of human beings- using abortion- that just so happen to be individuals with Down Syndrome is by no other word, wrong. News stories can be found with headlines such as “Iceland has practically eliminated Down Syndrome”. No, Iceland, you’ve eliminated people, you’ve eliminated future generations- without acknowledging the devastation that abortion can bring about. Does the word Holocaust come to mind?
In a report done by CBS, “Since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the early 2000s, the vast majority of women -- close to 100 percent -- who received a positive test for Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy.” And the US is not far behind with a termination rate of 67 percent!
Let’s talk about these wonderful individuals that society has deemed “undeserving of life”.
Facts and mythsMyth: People with Down Syndrome won’t live long
Fact: Research has shown that individuals with Down’s can live to be 60 years old or even older- with proper medical guidance.
Myth: People with Down Syndrome cannot live a mainstream lifestyle.
Fact: Most people with Down syndrome learn to walk and talk, and many are now attending mainstream schools, passing exams and living full, semi-independent adult lives. Examples of this can be seen all over Hollywood!
Myth: Down Syndrome only occurs in pregnancies of women over 35 years old.
Fact: due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.
I don’t think the issue lies in the access to abortion, which obviously plays a huge role in this crisis. Instead, I think the larger problem stems from society’s inability to recognize personhood and lack of knowledge of when human rights, more so when human life, begins. This issue does not just affect those with Down Syndrome, it is the way our culture reassures mothers that their child with a poor prenatal diagnosis, of any abnormality, is better left terminated. The problem lies in our culture not valuing every single life as unique and worthy.
January Event in a Box
This month we want to focus on how your group responds to the argument of fetal abnormalities and Human Rights. As a group, put together your objections to the fetal abnormality debate - here are SFLA’s objections:
The preborn child is a human being. As a human being, he or she deserves the right to Life that is protected by our constitutional law and promoted at large in society. To abort the child is to intentionallyend his/her life.
Even if the child is expected to die (during pregnancy or soon after), aborting the child will only add to the family’s grief. It forces the family to intentionally and violently end their child’s life. Instead, perinatal hospice allows parents to just be parents to their child, and enjoy the time they have with their child while providing specific comfort care to their baby.
Carrying the child to term and spending a few final moments with the child allows the mother and the family to come to terms with their child’s death and to spend a short-time with their child before his/her passing. This child’s short life will be filled with love rather than violently ended in the womb.
Have a discussion on your campus about the Iceland Down Syndrome crisis, how would you respond if the US started doing this? This will spark conversation about human rights and when life begins. RECRUITMENT!
In the Box
Fetal Abnormalities postcard
Down Syndrome Facts Flyer
Human Rights Tabletop Preview- ask your RC about bringing it to your campus
Navigating successful leadership transitions can be very tricky, but it is essential for the success of your club.The goal is longevity! You don’t want all of your hard work to disappear after you graduate! You want to prepare your group to go the distance and change the culture of your school. By setting up future leaders, you ensure that the group will continue to prosper- changing hearts, changing minds and saving lives for years to come.
First, create a structure for your group to work within for the transition. A section of your Constitution should include specific protocol for elections and transitions. Be clear and detailed to avoid any confusion! For example, when will you have elections? How will you take a vote? Who may run for a leadership position? And when do the new leaders take full responsibility? Make sure you remain consistent and follow the same procedure every school year. If a change needs to be made, vote and edit your Constitution.
Second, start looking for new leaders early on! As your group recruits new members, be on the lookout for natural leaders. Once you have identified potential leaders, delegate simple tasks to them and see how they handle the responsibility. As you delegate, begin to identify strengths and weaknesses. (This will help you assign leadership roles to the appropriate people.) But, don’t disqualify people for having weaknesses. It doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be a good leader! Take the time to help them grow! Let’s face it, we all can use a little help! Encourage the current leadership team to become mentors to the potential leaders.
Third, transition early! Announce the elections in the Fall so that your group can prepare. Be sure to encourage people who you think will make good leaders to consider running for a position. Elections should be held at least 2 months before the spring semester ends. It is crucial that there is an overlap of time where officers-elect and current officers can work together. This gives the new leadership time to ask questions and to settle into their roles. Previous leaders should introduce them to key players on campus, show them the process to get things done, and allow them to learn from the group’s past successes and mistakes. By the end of the semester, the new leadership should feel confident to assume full responsibility of the group and continue impacting your school!
For FREE one-on-one assistance with managing your leadership transitions, contact SFLA’s National Program Coordinator, Kassie Booker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch this quick video for help and advice!