Kathryn Lopez

The Spine-chilling Euphemism of the Month Award goes to The Washington Post for its recent front-page headline: "Down Syndrome Now Detectable In 1st Trimester: Earlier Diagnosis Allows More Time for Decisions."

One "decision" is, of course, whether to terminate the pregnancy -- the "A" word (abortion, for those not into subtlety). The less-nuanced, terribly un-P.C., and perhaps you'll consider downright mean among us might use a k-word. The decision being over whether to kill an innocent child, who is completely dependent on his mother's choices. Doctors estimate that between 80 and 90 percent of Down children are now aborted once pre-natal tests issue "warnings."

The Post story one of the few reports on Down syndrome to make the pages of that Beltway paper lately. The first notable piece showed up on its op-ed page in mid-October.

A former "Post" reporter, mother of a girl with Down syndrome, Patricia Bauer, living in the Botoxed state of California wrote: "As Margaret bounces through life, especially out here in the land of the perfect body, I see the way people look at her: curious, surprised, sometimes wary, occasionally disapproving or alarmed. I know that most women of childbearing age that we may encounter have judged her ... to be not worth living. "To them, Margaret falls into the category of avoidable human suffering. At best, a tragic mistake."

I'm sorry but I can't bring myself to think of anyone as and "avoidable" human being. She's a girl with special challenges, but she's a girl, as worth of life as any of the rest of us with problems and imperfections.

Bauer's piece, predictably, caused some controversy, judging by the letters the "Post" wound up publishing. But the most painful, heartbreaking, infuriating response came from an altogether separate opinion piece that showed up in the paper about a month later. The author, Maria Eftimiades, another journalist, defended her choice to abort her baby after learning that he would have Down syndrome. She tells us about her grieving for the child, she throws a hostile shot at abortion opponents, and ends up assuring the reader, unconvincingly: "As for that baby that will never be, I will remember him always. But I'm quite certain that I made the right choice... ."

I know abortion is one of our most contentious issues. People don't want to judge. They don't want to put their rosaries on your ovaries. People often just don't want to talk about it. But we have to talk about it. And we have to especially talk about Down syndrome and abortion -- and this class of people "sophisticated" people seem to think can (and should?) be eliminated. A civilized society cannot tolerate this reality.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.