Down Syndrome Abortion Rates Not as High as Previously Thought

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Down syndrome termination rates not as high as we thought.

According to research published in the journal Prenatal Diagnosis, we may have been wrong when we asked if abortion was the new normal for fetuses diagnosed as having Down syndrome. As our Julie Miner noted in the aforementioned Strollerderby Salon, The New York Times reported in 2007 that “about 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion.” Not so, says this new study, which “presents the largest synthesis of United States data on termination rates following a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.”

So how much lower are Down’s termination rates than previously thought?

“Evidence suggests that termination rates are … 67%—85% … and that termination rates vary with maternal age, maternal race/ethnicity, and gestational age,” Prenatal Diagnosis reports. Again, these rates reflect termination rates in America, as opposed to the 92% rate determined by reviewing older, International data. Researchers also note that “termination rates have decreased in recent years, which may reflect progress in medical management for individuals with Down syndrome and advances in educational, social, and financial support for their families.”

One way to seek financial support for children with Down syndrome, we’ve learned, is by claiming wrongful birth. A couple in Oregon recently were awarded $2.9 million for admitting they would not have chosen to complete their pregnancy had they known their daughter would be born with Down syndrome.

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