the news report:
the NDSC response:
Atlanta, GA -- February 22, 2008 -- According to a Raleigh News and Observer report and articles in a number of other journals, biology professor Albert Harris of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has stated, "In my opinion, the moral thing for older mothers to do is to have amniocentesis, as soon during pregnancy as is safe for the fetus, test whether placental cells have a third chromosome 21, and abort the fetus if it does,"
While Professor Harris qualified his statement as his "opinion" the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) finds the professor has violated basic academic standards by expressing an opinion based on personal, anecdotal experience in a classroom setting.
Reports suggest that Harris did so to spark discussion and debate. The NDSC would welcome that; however, we find Harris adds nothing to a debate which has been ongoing for sometime. He cites the fact that his opinion is based on the experience of one acquaintance whose life was, according to him, "ruined' by a child with Down syndrome. Instead of basing his opinion on facts, his own research or a clear understanding of the key points underpinning the debate, Harris has inserted his personal and quite obviously prejudicial opinion into an academic forum. In doing so, he has abused his responsibility to his students, colleagues and university. He has also inflicted unnecessary pain on people with Down syndrome and their families.
Down syndrome is the most common naturally occurring cause of developmental delay. Occurring once in every 800 to 1000 live births, the syndrome affects approximately 350,000 Americans. Down syndrome impacts people across an extremely wide range, however it is rare for it to be, in fact, ruinous by any definition.
The contrary is more often the case. NDSC Executive Director David Tolleson notes, "We are in constant contact with a large, vigorous national and international community of people with Down syndrome, their families and the professionals who support them. Additionally, published academic studies have found that most people with a family member with Down syndrome consider the experience to be a positive one." Far from ruining lives, our families consistently report that their sons, daughters or siblings with Down syndrome enhance their lives and bring them great joy. A quick scan of the internet will produce many examples of people with Down syndrome who are embraced and valued by their families and communities. In the post secondary world, people with Down syndrome increasingly attend college and take their places as loyal, productive and valued employees.
We question how any of that can be termed "ruinous."
We therefore ask Professor Harris to retract his statement. In doing so, we also request that the professor make an appropriate apology to his students, explain clearly that his statement was a personal opinion and has no scientific basis and make every effort to convey to them current, accurate facts regarding Down syndrome. Should Professor Harris decline to do so, we call upon the University of North Carolina to investigate this incident and take appropriate disciplinary action.
and i TRIED not to be too hateful, but my response via email to Harris:
I am so sorry that you've had a bad experience with someone close to you whose child had Trisomy 21.
It definitely is the the exception to the rule, and after reading your Hitler-like opinion, I do hope you take a second and broaden your mind by listening to the opposing argument. You might want to start by reading "Expecting Adam" written by a HARVARD PHD, Martha Beck, who like me, DID have an amnio, and DID decide to enhance the world by bringing her child to term.
I know it's difficult in the academic world, to imagine a brain not in the genius level, but trust me, there is a whole world out there that operates just fine at other levels. In fact, our country would cease to exist should we lose the diversity that founded it.
There is no need to target an entire group of people for mass genocide to improve the nation. Using that logic it would follow that if we were to abort every fetus who had the possibility of a HIGHER I.Q., we would have saved ourselves the history of Ted Bundy and the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. In fact, continuing to use your logic, maybe it would be safer for us just to gather up all the 'Teds' in the nation and kill them! Are you understanding the irony?
This is a quote that I like
""Respectful support begins with the recognition that individuals with disabilities are not abnormal or deficient but, instead, reflect the normal diversity of the human community"
Our children ARE part of this world, and DO reflect the natural order of the world. They definitely give back, more than they take, and if you would take the time to research ALL of them, instead of basing your opinion on a few, you would improve yourself as a lecturer that is PAID TO EDUCATE, not paid to teach hate, not paid to instruct in the benefits of a SUPERIOR RACE.
We, as parents of children with special needs, will be contacting your Dean with OUR opinions, with the same force that the US liberated
Germany when they were under rule of a tyrant, who also shared your opinion.
West Plains, MO
Parent of children that range from genius to special needs, and who has EXPERIENCED the necessity for ALL of them to be in our world.
oh yes...the professor's email addy is:
and the chancellor's
If this man choses to teach, than that's fine, he does NOT need to be 'teaching' in this manner AT A STATE FUNDED UNIVERSITY! If his intention was to spark a debate (which is really unnecessary in a science class) then there would have BEEN a debate...he's expressed the opinion before. There is no discussion, he JUST TEACHES HIS OPINION! that is NOT a DEBATE...that is NOT EDUCATION!
I hope you join me, as parents, in voicing our opinions. We are TRYING to teach the next generation of the preciousness of our children....If these students go on to be physicians, we will be stuck in the mentality that afflicts us today
Another year older!
10 months ago