Saturday, 23 August 2014

Dear Richard Dawkins

No, not God, this time. You've done God to death. I want to complain about your disgraceful Tweet (if that's what it's called. I don't do Twitter) about Downs Syndrome babies. Let me remind you of what you said, apropos an unborn Downs baby: "Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have a choice."

Why, Richard (if I may call you Richard)? Why immoral? If that baby is wanted, despite its condition, and if the parents are prepared to take it on, who are you to tell them they are being immoral? Are you God (if you'll excuse the term)? Have you ever met a Downs child (or adult)? Do you have any idea of some of the joy and love they can bring?

Let me tell you about Derica. When I met her, she was in her late teens; a regular patient at the surgery where I was practice nurse. She was a much-loved member of her family. Cheerful, friendly, brave (she never made a fuss about her blood tests the way many 'normal' people do), and happy. Yes, Richard. She was happy. And when her grandmother was burgled, at knifepoint, in her own little flat (imagine how that must have felt, if you can), it was Derica who slept in her Grandmother's bed with her for night after night afterwards, to hold her and comfort her.

Sadly, Derica died not long afterwards (so she didn't take up planet-space for too long, you'll be relieved to hear), and her family were all devastated. Because Derica knew how to love, how to care, how to give; in fact,  how to be a thoroughly good  human being.

We had many patients at that surgery, but it was Derica who stood out for me. Not because she had Downs, but because she was a very special young woman.

I wish you could have met her.

27 comments:

  1. If RD did in fact say that then I, too, am appalled. I had a God-child who was Downs Syndrome. I suspect many who agree with RD's view on the absence of a deity will be equally appalled.

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    1. Well, I think it was definitely on Twitter - I've read it twice in The Times.

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    2. Frances it's not that I doubted you it's just that I lived my life around politicians and press reporting and just got used to being sceptical. It's amazing the things I've read that I've 'said' and I was never even a quotable politician. I certainly didn't mean to detract from the rest of my comment.

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  2. GB, I'm one who agrees with his atheist views, and was quite shocked by this outburst. I've since heard that it's a view he has held for a long time, and spoken publicly about before. This time it has quite rightly caused a stir.

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    1. Cro I'm atheist too and although I agree with many of his views he's too proselytising for my liking. That's one of the things I find offensive about religion.

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    3. CM (and Graham) I deliberately left God out of this! It's not about a deity, is it? It's about humanity and decency and respect for the feelings of others.

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    4. Absolutely not at all Frances but because I have no belief in a deity people often accuse me of having no 'morals' on the basis that morals are a 'Christian' thing (which even ignores other religions' beliefs).

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  3. This is surprising coming from a humanitarian. He is a pompous fool but now is an appalling pompous fool.
    Perhaps he had been at the falling down water but it's always difficult to tell with him.

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    1. If he was sober, it makes it even worse, Adrian.

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    2. The problem is Adrian that he's pompous but he's not a fool.

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    3. Graham, there has to be difference between intelligence and foolishness.
      I cannot ever condone anything that even hints at euthanasia or selection of humans.
      Some of the towel heads are pushing their luck a bit.
      It is naughty chopping heads off Americans but it seems fine if it is Saudis doing it to other Arabs, they stone women as well.
      I can think of one demure English Rose that stoning would be too good for but she lets me stay whilst the camper gets it's annual service. Unfortunately the service stops with the camper and to cap it all I can't smoke in the house. The odd thing is I used to feel no remorse about killing a five legged lamb.
      I guess I am an atheist humanitarian.
      Sorry for this Frances. Graham brings out the worst in me.

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    4. PS. I seem to have written an awful lot of words about a bloke I stopped listening to years ago.
      Love him or hate him he makes me think.

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  4. Discovering they're carrying a Downs child and have the option to terminate the pregnancy must give some women a very difficult decision to make. There will be a lot of things to take into account - I hpe this man's opinion isn't one of them.

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    1. Patsy, abortion is a terribly hard decision. A friend of mine had one with a Downs baby. I know how very difficult she found it. I refused the test as I wouldn't have had a termination anyway.

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  5. From what I've seen, Downs children are happy, kind and loving, unlike other human beings and they deserve a place on this earth.

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  6. While people can offer an opinion, no one can know what to do for the best until they are in the situation being discussed.

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  7. What an appalling thing to say, whatever his opinions.

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  8. I sometimes wonder at the stuff Dawkins says. He must have evolved to need a lot of publicity.

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  9. Good on you, Frances. Your post should be in The Times too.

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    1. Thank you, RWP. But I'm not sure it's good enough. On the other hand, I've had quite a lucky strike rate with Times letters.....

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  10. Well said, Frances. That was a terrible thing for him to say. It's one thing to have an opinion, everyone is entitled to that, but to tell people it is immoral to bring a Down's child into the world is just wrong x

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    1. ...and an insult to Downs people and their families, Teresa. Thank you for the comment.

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