Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What Matt Lauer Said

This Monday on The Today Show featured a segment highlighting a new prenatal test, the Materni21 Test. This test can detect Down Syndrome very early in a pregnancy with incredible accuracy. Even before this test came into existence, women who received a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome were choosing abortion NINETY PERCENT of the time. Now I recognize that tests are neutral and knowledge is power...but what some people do with that information is very discouraging, to say the least.

Enter Matt Lauer. Speaking with a couple who had taken this new test, he says, "Let's get to the good news," to which the pregnant mother responds, "We're safe. The baby doesn't have Down Syndrome."


Now I'm not naive. If the test had come back positive for Down Syndrome, I wouldn't have expected them to put on party hats and dance around the room. But by saying "Let's get to the good news" when the baby didn't have Down Syndrome, Matt Lauer implies that it would be bad news if the baby did. I wish people didn't view it that way. It's not bad...just different. (If you haven't already, read this poem titled "Welcome to Holland.")

We didn't know Julia had Down Syndrome before she was born. It wouldn't have made a difference but  maybe a little heads up would've been nice. I was definitely caught off-guard when the doctor in the delivery room said they had noticed features in Julia consistent with Down Syndrome. Everyone in the hospital was extremely supportive and while I wasn't devastated, I didn't embrace the news right away, either. The social worker at the hospital gave me a book called "Babies With Down Syndrome," that not surprisingly, featured a baby with Down Syndrome on the cover. I couldn't look at the cover for the first month. Now I wouldn't bat an eye at it. But I understand that the news takes some getting used to.

Because the odds are already so overwhelmingly stacked against unborn babies with Down Syndrome, in this age of tolerance and inclusion, I wish Matt Lauer had chosen his words more carefully. More than that, I wish he felt differently -- because he was probably voicing what he believed to be true.

If they only knew the joy this child has brought our family...