Tuesday, May 12, 2009

pro-choice neurodiversitites, a possible dillema

One of the tenets of club ND (or at least some of its members) is that genetic research into autism is a bad thing because it would lead to prenatal abortions of autistics at some point. In fact, the Autism Self-advocacy network has called for a moratorium on all genetic research just for this reason. They have cited peer reviewed publications showing that the rate of abortions of Down's syndrome fetuses runs between 80-90%. Therefore, they project that the same thing could happen with autism. Some members of club ND ("the autistic bitch from hell" is one of the best known examples) have stated that Autism Speaks which has a collaboration with the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange is seeking ways to be able to deliberately abort autistic fetuses.

The technology to abort autistic fetuses does not yet exist. There is no evidence that it will exist anytime in the foreseeable future. This is particularly true for all cases of autism. It is unlikely there could ever be a universal pre-natal autism test as so many conditions are labeled as autistic with a variety of different genes and genetic etiologies involved. Some are due to autosomal dominance such as tuberous sclerosis. Others are x-linked such as fragile X. Others are associated with findings on chromosome 22 as is the case of the condition DiGeorge syndrome which is not uncommonly associated with autism. Some cases are due to multiplex factors, i.e. the interaction of many different genes.

Abortion for not only Down's syndrome fetuses but typically developing fetuses is a reality. Ever since the supreme court's decision in Roe vs. Wade. States have had a right to legalize abortion on demand. If there is a state in the USA where abortion is illegal, I am not aware of it.

I wonder how neurodiversitites feel about abortion. I know that one, Joel Smith, has taken a completely pro-life stance. There may be others as well. Frank Klein has told me he is pro choice regarding abortions with the exception of the nonexistent abortions of autistic fetuses. Though the question of abortion of autistics seems to be perpetually on the mind of the "autistic bitch from hell", I notice she has endorsed the Obama candidacy over McCain. This would seem to increase the likelihood that she is pro-choice as far as abortion is concerned (excluding autistic fetus abortions which do not yet exist).

Therefore, I wonder about other neurodiversitites. Are they in favor of abortion under any circumstance (barring rape and endangerment to the mother's life which likely account for the smallest percent of abortions) Do they favor keeping Roe vs. Wade intact and having Obama or any other president only appoint supreme court justices who will do so?

If the answer is no, then why hasn't ABFH supported the McCain Palin candidacy rather than Obama when it was McCain who is pro life. Why hasn't ASAN lobbied for outlawing abortion and having Roe v. Wade overturned?

If the answer is yes. Then why does a typical fetus who was conceived due to parents' poor judgement in using birth control improperly or not at all have less right to live than an autistic fetus or a Down's fetus. If a law was passed outlawing abortions of only developmentally disabled fetuses, would this not be a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment?

Just wondering.


K said...

Issues aren't that black and white. One can be pro-choice yet deplore and want outlawed third trimester abortions, except in the case of the mother's life. Palin's stance was extreme. For instance, she would deny a rape or incest victim the right to an abortion. There is an ethical issue with abortion to choose the sex of a child for instance. Life is much more nuanced and I doubt most folks vote over one issue anyway. Besides, men have no right to question a woman's views on this in my opinion. It's their bodies and their lives.


SM69 said...

K- I agree with the first part, but men have the same right of say about a child/ or pregnancy than women have. The bearing and all the following nurturing make the bond of a mother to a child very special of course, and often this implies the mother ends up as primary carer, because of her biology. But that does not diminish the role of men in this.

J- I don’t think anyone would go for an abortion knowing there is a possibility to have a child with autism. As you said there is no known marker for autism and it comes in so many shades anyway. Parents in love wanting a child, want who ever the mixing of their genes will be created. A unique production that brings two people genetically together for ever in a child and other generations (usually). That's what conceiving is about (and that is why both men and women have equal say). Many parents (I would say most) would want to embrace what ever life, and especially life as a result of a love union, brings.

jonathan said...

Lorene, if that is the case you have to explain the high rate of abortions of down's fetuses, which do occur. I don't know how many would abort an autistic fetus in that hypothetical scenario but some people would I suspect. Of course if you were correct then that means a lot of the premises of ND are really for naught.

mayfly said...

It is that black and white. Bringing up Obama/MCCain and special circumstances such as rape fogs the issue.

There are many who support the killing of a child in the whom based solely on the whim of its mother, unless that child has a developmental disorder.

THE 14TH amendment does not apply. Human beings in the womb are not under that protection.

K said...


I don't subscribe to such a rigid view point. Human beings are much more complex and I don't feel as though I can make decisions for other people about their lives. I don't subscribe to such fundamentalism nor do I assume I know better than they do about what is their choice. I would only draw the line at state sponsored fundamentalism.

SM69 said...

DS and autism are distinct conditions. Whilst individuals with DS can be happy, generally there are co morbidity issues with their condition that affects seriously the quality of their life. Life expectancy is also reduced. Raising a child with any disability is hard. When the outcomes of a genetic impairment are so well known, as it is the case for DS, and the only positives are to get the chance to meet an individual who will through his/her differences brings new and enriching perspectives to ordinary lives, on balance, I think parent should have the choice to decide whether they can take that challenge or not (i.e. choice of abortion). I am not considering the life of someone un-conceived as being ruined (as it does not exist - think about all these wasted spermatozoids, that breaks my heart). Nor I am considering the life of a fetus under 24 weeks of pregnancy as being wasted when the child cannot be raised in suitable conditions (to be raised in poor living condition is a far worse outcome). This is irrespectively of the risk of genetic problem. But there is nothing certain in autism, no well defined and known outcome, no marker as yet, the potential of well being and happiness are real. Unless the autism of the child was guarantied to exist and to be severe, because it is clearly associated with a known genetic mutation, (e.g. Angelman), then there is no reason to consider abortion. Couples who have had one or more autistic child are more likely to have another autistic child. They can have the choice of adoption if they want more children and do not want a child with autism. Would they want to conceive and then do a genetic screen (if that was available) to decide on absorption? I honestly don’t think we will ever get there, because autism is not associated with a single gene or marker and is a spectrum of conditions and the prognosis is unknown.

ND people are not scientist generally and I am not sure they fully understand why genetic studies in autism are for. But nor do you I think Jonathan. We are miles away from a cure by reverting individual genetics. I think ND people fear things which are not real. They fight for recognition and acceptance and can be mixed up on some issues at times. That comes also with a tendency for a tunnel vision with difficulties to evaluate things as whole.

Marius Filip said...

How about that: "a ban on abortion of featuses that manifest a disability like Down Syndrome or autism is positive discrimination".

jonathan said...

I do understand what genetic studies are for and that is to understand the etiology of diseases such as autism. Though there is a huge rubric or what autism comes in and no one genetic cause, if large enough samples of persons with autism many thousands of persons with autism then greater homogeneity amongst the many causes of autism or at least what predispose persons to autism could be understand. Then we can learn what brain areas are impaired. These are the words of Daniel Geschwind a ucla neurogeneticist who specializes in autism. He certainly understands the science of autism and genetics.

You are right, the ND's are quite confused about science and just about everything else. Their thing about acceptance and rights is nothing but a scam and considering how nasty and abusive most of them are, they certainly do nothing to foster acceptance of those with autism, just the reverse

K said...

"to be raised in poor living condition is a far worse outcome"

That's a bit of a confusing comment. Are you saying that only the very poor should be aborted? If so, I wouldn't be here writing this because I grew up poor, very poor.

I can say this. Despite my horrific struggle for understanding, the one gift my rather odd mother gave me was to love myself. It's gotten me through a lot of rather nasty episodes in my life. Though she herself probably suffers from some sort of psychosis, she did impart on me that I should be proud of myself for what I accomplish, even though I failed to fullfill her dreams for me.

SM69 said...

Jonathan, I actually think genetic studies in autism are there to distract from the central issues, and not to identify the etiologies of the condition. I don’t agree that that reason for not finding anything significant so far is that there has been insufficient numbers of people enrolled. Rather it is that autism is not purely genetic and is not about sequence DNA polymorphism either (which has essentially been the focus of the genetic searches). There is another reason behind these studies: money. Money is available and this is very convenient when labs need to keep constantly securing funding. They will almost always tap into funds available whether or not the science is relevant. This affects many areas of science, not just autism. I doubt that genetic studies will have any significant beneficial outcomes to the lives of autistic people.

I did not mean poor with regard to social status, I meant, issues like parents not ready to take on the responsibility of rearing a child, either because too young, or involve with drugs, or because in a very dysfunctional family, or parents who simply do not want to stay together and the pregnancy was an accident. Love to a child as you said is important, but not just this though, and of course this is well above finance.

mayfly said...

Human beings are much more complex? More complex than what? Certainly development takes place, but from conception on a separate human being exists. That is not fundamentalism.

Now it is entirely dependent on its mother, but that does not change its human status. It is also not equal. If to save the mother's life the fetus will die as a consequence,
the mother's life is to be saved.

But this discussion has to do with two fetuses one without autism, and one with. Some ND types would fsvor the "right to choose" for the mother of the NT fetus, but would block that right for the mother of the one with markers for autism. This is very wrong. It means the disorder is more important than their humanity.

I am the father of a profoundly autistic daughter. I worry very much about the quality of her life when I'm gone. I do not worry about the value of her life. Her life is as valuable as anyone else's. I am definitely for a cure, and want genetic testing to continue. I

Anonymous said...

I can't figure these ND people out either...they just like to make crap up to suit their own agenda even if it completely contradicts itself.

SM69 said...

Just a little observation which no doubt anyone is aware of. Being on blogs talking to various people, pro-ND or not, I am amazed by the choices of wordings used by many to communicate (not just ND people Jonathan). I cannot see how being highly offense, insulting, aggressive, or use directed personal attacks can possibly help anyone. I know there is a core problem of communication in autism, but I would think that one could learn to use communication more effectively, after all this can be explained by set of simple rules which ASD people tends to understand. I am not talking about the logic or even the content of the expressions; I am simply talking about the form.

I think those who review comments for publication could send a response to those who have used unnecessary offensive language such as, if you want your comment published, consider using alternative choice of wordings to express your ideas.

I wonder if that simple request could not have enormous influences on the development of discussion amongst everyone, avoiding systematic head lock as I keep reading on most ND/ autism blogs

Isn’t it that something fair to ask?

Perhaps that way blogs would not be populated by Anonymous species who are somehow not able to communicate holding their true identidy?

jonathan said...

Hi Lorene: I published this absolutely off topic post because it shows there is something you don't understand about the internet. Though it is usually pro ND autistics who stoop to abuse and personal attacks more frequently than anyone else you seem to think this is due to autistic styles of communication. You are absolutely mistaken about that. All you have to do is go to any political blog where the persons are not autistic but disagree with politics such as democrats versus republicans and you will see the same personal attacks and nasty insults that come from autistic people. This is a phenomenon of the internet, where people can attack other people from the safety of their computer monitors. It is absolutely irrelevant to autism. Nonautistic persons do this also, so your theory is absolutely wrong.

SM69 said...

Or have I just proven the point that it is not just ND people who are unecessarily agressive, you did not need such level of intensity as reply?

Was it off topic, it was straight after someone's post that was very aggressive in nature. It was not off topic to discuss how people comment on this blog,

The survey I made was totally derived from
last month exchanges I have had here on this blog, so totally relevent. If you had taken the time to look at it you would have appreciated the was it is designed is from an open mind about the outcomes, it is not pro ND. There are ways to estimate how genuine the responses are, and I will take into account a possible flaw. It is only to get some feelings. You told me you don't even know how many people think like you do; don't you want to know?

I do.

Sent from my iPhone

jonathan said...

These surveys prove nothing as such a small minority of autistics would read it on the internet and the sample is so heavily skewed, but we are covering old ground, but in essence this is why I don't believe such surveys should be taken.

You are right, this phenomena of internet attacks are not exclusive to pro ND autistics. I never said they were, but on the other hand it has nothing to do with autism and it is a pipe dream to expect such attacks to ever stop on the internet.

SM69 said...

Well with this sort of view, we are a little stacked aren't we? On your side you stand as an angry proponent of anti-ND, pro-cure, also opposed to any sort of input in autism other than some genetic stuff. On the other side we have the ND people who want recognition but totally fail to recognize the harsh reality of autism. Then somewhere else, the is the Biomed people some of whom cannot think about anything else than mercury and vaccine and have very narrow views of autism. A few loners lost in the middle of this all trying to find some sense. I am one of them. I am trying to see the issues as globally as possible in order to put in place what my son needs. I face the same old problem here; barriers, preconceptions, flawness, and most of all continued unkindness. I am used to it though now; and to take your language or near enough I no longer care. Answers can only be found within self.


Anonymous said...

Neurodiversity cannot be held at the same level as Democrats vs. Republicans. Politics offers legit debates; Neurodiversity does not. There is really nothing to discuss.

It consists mostly of people with borderline Asperger's who were bullied too much in life and who want to associate themselves with geniuses to boost their self-esteem since there is no cure for their disorder.

If they want to feel better about themselves they need to see a therapist, not spread their fallacies about autism and "acceptance."

SM69 said...

Minor correction for the sake of accuracy: I have met one HFA/AS person who has seen a child/children with more severe level of autism. I wonder how many Ari has met?