By Daniela Clapp
Why would a merciful God so loving and kind leave my precious child mentally behind?
I count the chromosomes and in confusion look up at Heaven. “God, you made a mistake, there are forty seven.” With bitter, endless tears I pray, “Please God, take the extra chromosome away.”
My baby is broken, my pain is deep, my burden too heavy to bear. “God, do you even care?”
My Joy, my Happiness, my Dreams, all seem lost and gone, and my heart is too wounded to find the strength to go on.
Friends and Family come to see this brand new child, but my ocean of tears and my hurting soul abide.
The countless doctor visits begin, and again I ask God, “What did I do wrong to deserve such misery, where did I sin?”
On the operating table so helpless and small, my brand new baby needs open-heart surgery, but that is not all.
The journey continues through deep valleys and places unknown, with no way out, no exit in sight, and again I shook my fist at God and cried.
The tears are falling and falling all year long, but suddenly in the distance I hear a sweet song. Yes, a sweet song; yes my little dear child, it’s true, a bird was singing a beautiful song about you. It was the nightingale that woke me last night when all was still; it sang in the golden moonlight, from out the woodland hill. I opened my window so gently; I looked on the dreaming dew, and oh! The bird, my sweet angel, was singing, singing of you.
God smiled at me from Heaven above and whispered, “No need to despair, have faith and believe in the Power of Love.”
Dear God, now I can see your mighty hand’s work in all around me: the stream, the forest, the flowers, my brand new child, the stars above the blue. Oh Heaven itself, my sweet angel, is praying, praying for you.
God said, “This child is a gift, please trust in me, this child will love you like no one else can, for she loves unconditionally. I made no mistake, you see, everything is exactly the way it was meant to be!”
God brought my Miracle in disguise, you see.
Just look to God in Heaven above and start believing in the Power of Love!
© 2011 by Daniela Clapp, Founder of Music Transforms You, LLC, www.danielaclapp.com
The Genocide of BabiesWith
Conservationists for Down syndrome – Saving the endangered Kiwis
Newsletter – December 2011
By Mike Sullivan
“People with Down syndrome may soon disappear from the face of the earth.” This was the introduction by Mike McRoberts to the 60 Minutes documentary “Down but not out” that aired in June this year. 60 Minutes revealed the Ministry of Health’s new antenatal screening programme would reduce the population of people with Down syndrome through disability selective abortion. The screening programme was introduced earlier this year without public consultation and the Ministry “did not bother” asking the opinion of anyone who has Down syndrome, about the programme.
Savingdowns spokesman, Mike Sullivan, featured in the 60 Minutes documentary. He said people with Down syndrome and other disabilities are human beings who live full and rewarding lives. “They must be treated on an equal basis with other members of our society, without any form of discrimination.”
Savingdowns is a group of 36 parents and siblings of people with Down syndrome. It was established this year in response to the new screening programme.
Complaint laid with the International Criminal Court
Savingdowns and Right to Life NZ lodged a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the Government’s screening programme in June 2011. The basis of the complaint is that the programme specifically targets and persecutes unborn children with Down syndrome and other rare genetic conditions, through the prevention of their births. This is in effect, an act of genocide and a crime against humanity, under Articles 6 and 7 of the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute forms the basis of operation of the ICC. The Court has confirmed that the complaint is being considered. New Zealand is party to the Rome Statute and is bound to comply with any ruling from the ICC.
The emphasis of the ICC complaint is on consequences and intent, with genetic screening and selective abortion being the means. The intent is to identify unborn children with Down syndrome, Spina Bifida and other conditions, so that births to the group can be prevented. Item 14 of the Memorandum to the Cabinet of the New Zealand government, dated 23 October 2007, detailed the purposes of the screening programme to include (emphasis added):
The purpose of screening is to provide women with information about their pregnancy to enable them to make informed choices. This information may help women to….(Second bullet) decide whether to continue with or terminate the pregnancy.
The consequence of the screening programme is that a substantial part of the group is being systematically destroyed.
Item 28 of the Memorandum to Cabinet states (emphasis added):
“There is the potential for activities associated with improving the quality of antenatal screening for Down syndrome to have a negative impact on people with disabilities, including:”…. (Fourth bullet) ”decrease in the number of babies born with Down syndrome. International experience suggests that as a result of screening and diagnostic tests, up to 90 percent of women who receive an antenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome will choose to terminate their pregnancies.”
In effect, the screening programme facilitates genocidal acts against the group, with abortion being the means of perpetrating those acts. The intent and consequences are the same as those that occurred during the Nazi genocide where the disabled where the first group targeted for sterilisation and “euthanasia” (read killing) under the Racial Hygiene programme. Members of the Third Reich were found guilty of charges of crimes against humanity at Nürnberg for these very actions against children with Down syndrome and Spina Bifida. Now, in New Zealand, the government is promoting, facilitating, financing and tolerating measures intended to prevent births of the same group of people. Therefore, our government is implicated in the making of a biological genocide towards that group of people. As was the case in Germany, the New Zealand screening programme is carried out under the guise of being legal under domestic law.
Other areas of advocacy
Whilst awaiting the outcomes of the ICC application, Savingdowns is being active in other important areas of advocacy around this issue. This includes raising awareness around the rapidly emerging biological genocide of routine genetic pregnancy screening and disability selective abortion.
Savingdowns recently launched a web site that provides static information on their work. A Facebook page has also be used as a social media tool to provide for discussion and sharing of information internationally. Both of these tools are proving to be very successful.
Feedback from disability advocacy groups within New Zealand and worldwide is that the issue is rapidly gaining traction and support. There is certainly much interest in the outcomes of the ICC case.
Diane Belcher and Mike Sullivan gave presentations at the Voice for Life National Conference in Wellington in November as part of our ongoing awareness campaign.
Other specific areas of advocacy are covered below.
NZDSA position statements on screening for Down syndrome
The NZDSA is recommending two new position statements on screening for Down syndrome, one for prenatal screening and one for pregnancy termination. These have gone out to all NZDSA members for feedback.
The proposed position statement on prenatal screening includes the wording:
The NZDSA advocates that the primary goal of prenatal screening should not be to reduce the birth prevalence of Down syndrome in the population, but rather to improve prenatal health care and delivery care for the mother and baby.
The proposed position statement on termination is:
The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association does not consider Down syndrome in itself a reason for termination.
These statements are significantly stronger in providing clear advocacy for life for those with Down syndrome and opposition towards discrimination. This is a huge step forward and the NZDSA are to be congratulated for this initiative.
Savingdowns has positively contributed towards this achievement through the significant media exposure of the 60 Minutes documentary “Down but not out” and the lodging of the formal complaint with the ICC.
The Ministry of Health
Savingdowns recently meet with officials from the Ministry of Health who are involved with the screening programme. They were Dr Pat Tuohy, a specialist paediatrician who is the Chief Advisor Child Health and Jane McEntee, Manager Antenatal and Newborn Screening of the National Screening Unit. Although they were not prepared to have the ICC issue on the table, they were willing to reconsider other important issues that relate to the information they have produced about prenatal screening.
There was acknowledgement that the current consumer resources were not acceptable. These are now being revised to provide balanced, accurate, positive and non-discriminatory information around the conditions being screened for.
The Ministry has agreed to work on an initiative to up-skill the training of medical students to reflect positive lived experiences around the conditions being screened for.
There has been an acknowledgement of the need to involve people with Down syndrome, Spina Bifida and other conditions in decisions around screening that affect them.
There was general agreement to change the referral system for positive diagnosis. The plan is to include referrals to a Paediatrician with direct experience in the condition concerned and also to a family with a member with the condition concerned.
The Human Rights Commission
It was also agreed with the Ministry of Health that Savingdowns would approach the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to convene a meeting with the government ministries concerned to discuss areas of the screening programme that breach international humanitarian law and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD).
Savingdowns have subsequently met with the newly appointed Chief Human Rights Commissioner, David Rutherford. He is a sports and commercial lawyer who has had extensive experience in disability work and was on the International Board responsible for organizing the Special Olympics. He was previously the CEO of the New Zealand Rugby Union.
As a result of that meeting, Savingdowns and a number of other disability advocacy groups, including Down Syndrome International, the Spina Bifida Association of New Zealand and the International Federation for Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus, will be lodging a formal submission that reviews the compatibility of the screening programme with the CRPD and human rights law more generally. People First NZ Inc, DPA NZ and the NZDSA are also currently considering whether to join this initiative.
Savingdowns is requesting that the policy for antenatal screening for disabilities be reviewed against New Zealand’s obligations under the CRPD. From this we are advocating that an action plan be developed and implemented to address all aspects of the screening programme that are in conflict with the CRPD.
Savingdowns is asking that the HRC take a proactive role in this process.
It is also expected that the New Zealand situation will be reported to the UN committee on the CRPD when the New Zealand country report is presented, probably during 2012. This will be through the submission of an independent “shadow report” from the disability advocacy groups that are involved in this initiative.
Further information on saving Down syndrome is available on their web site and facebook page.
Visit us at www.savingdowns.com