For one thing, conventional pro-life versus pro-choice debates quickly become tinged with overtones about “slippery-slope” genocide, predicting the eventual disappearance of people with Down syndrome as a group. Such claims are often hysterical, but they’re not ungrounded: As our ability to screen for “undesirable” genetic traits expands, so does the potential for abortion based upon those characteristics.
Importantly, the conventional social dynamics around abortion are completely reversed. Among the families of people with disabilities, you’ll find ardent pro-choice advocates (like my wife and me) who choose not to abort. And with a vast majority of diagnoses ending in abortion, you’re likely to find many strident pro-life conservatives opting for abortion in the face of such challenges.
This doesn’t mean these people are hypocrites. Rather, it shows how tricky the issue is. In a typical pregnancy, women who choose to have an abortion are often saddled with shame and social stigma, even from friends, relatives and the broader public. Meanwhile, despite recent strides, there remains significant stigma associated with being the parent of a child with special needs.