“Love, No Matter What” – A Rebuttal of Andrew Solomon’s TED talk

In this post I’d like to discuss the TED talk given by Andrew Solomon called Love, No Matter What. (See the link for the YouTube video). I enjoy TED talks very much because they offer a perspective on topics that you often haven’t thought about or if it is a topic you think about it could offer a different perspective. This talk titled “Love, No Matter What” seemed to have potential. I was hoping he’d talk about the good that can come from love. What I found was not exactly that. There were some good points, which I will let you listen to the talk to find, but one small point near the middle (11:56 minutes in the transcript) which caused me to seek the transcript, listen multiple times and finally rebuke Andrew’s comments with this post.

Here’s the YouTube description of the talk.

“What is it like to raise a child who’s different from you in some fundamental way (like a prodigy, or a differently abled kid, or a criminal)? In this quietly moving talk, writer Andrew Solomon shares what he learned from talking to dozens of parents — asking them: What’s the line between unconditional love and unconditional acceptance? – Youtube description TED talk “Love, No Matter What”

This talk was good in that it talks about how it can be hard for a parent to understand a child who is different from the parent. The examples Andrew uses are a child who is deaf, has dwarfism, is gay or has Down Syndrome. This group presents an interesting, and seemingly completely arbitrary smattering of different things that people can be identified as, which brings up an interesting thought on identity, that I have made a note to think of at a later date. But I digress,

Here is the point that confused me at starting at 11:56.

“We live at a point when social acceptance for these and many other conditions is on the up and up. And yet we also live at the moment when our ability to eliminate those conditions has reached a height we never imagined before. Most deaf infants born in the United States now will receive Cochlear implants, which are put into the brain and connected to a receiver, and which allow them to acquire a facsimile of hearing and to use oral speech. A compound that has been tested in mice, BMN-111, is useful in preventing the action of the achondroplasia gene. Achondroplasia is the most common form of dwarfism, and mice who have been given that substance and who have the achondroplasia gene, grow to full size. Testing in humans is around the corner. There are blood tests which are making progress that would pick up Down syndrome more clearly and earlier in pregnancies than ever before, making it easier and easier for people to eliminate those pregnancies, or to terminate them.” – Transcript.

Read the last line again or better yet watch the video.

“There are blood tests which are making progress that would pick up downs syndrome more clearly and earlier in pregnancies than ever before making it easier and easier for people to eliminate those pregnancies or to terminate them. So we have both social progress and medical progress.” – Andrew Solomon

This prompted my thought to change the title of the talk to “Love Your Child No Matter What, (Unless They Have Down Syndrome, Or Any Other Disease Or Deformity That I think Can’t Be Cured At This Time)”

Here are my thoughts and questions on this.

Later in the talk Andrew says

13:35 – “We have to think about how we feel about cures altogether. And a lot of the time the question of parenthood is, what do we validate in our children, and what do we cure in them?” – Andrew Solomon

Why is the only thing he mentioned that he’d validate in your child was homosexuality, although he didn’t actually say that, it was more implied. In fact, he didn’t mention homosexuality at all in the talk (at 11:56) about how he’d “fix” the issues that could be detected in a child.

He mentions BMN-111 treat dwarfs to make them “normal”.

He mentions hearing implants for deaf children to make the child “normal”.
And then his solution is to murder (abortion) a child who MAY have down syndrome. We can share numerous stories of people who were supposed to have been aborted, Tim Tebow for one, whose parents were brave enough to tell the doctor’s “Abortion is not an option.”

Andrew mentions a total of 0 “cures” for homosexuality. I’m not promoting that he should be or shouldn’t be promoting a “cure” for it, but when he goes through all the other situations he presented but doesn’t mention homosexuality that’s raises questions in my head of what his motives are for the talk. It seems his thoughts are 2 fold.

  1. Normalize homosexuality. I really think this is the underlying point of the whole talk, and if Andrew wanted to disagree with me on that point that’s ok.  (I am not trying to be biased for or against that, I have complex views on homosexuality and haven’t researched enough to form a complete arguing opinion. Look for future articles. This in not what I want to address in this post.)
  2. Promote abortion of children who could have developmental disorders. I honestly think this was not high in his mind at all while writing this talk. I think Andrew could have left this point out completely and he would have been just as happy. I think that he so nonchalantly mentions it, and then that people applaud him, show the state our society is in. I have researched a great deal on abortion and I am adamantly against abortion.

It seems Andrew is biased. I wonder what the Robart’s (the people he interviewed for his book who’s son has Down Syndrome) thought about that statement. Here’s what Tom Robart had to say.

“I think if we lost everyone with downs syndrome it would be a catastrophic loss.” – Tom Robart

So why then, is Andrew’s solution for children (who are people definitely by the time the fertilized egg has implanted in the uterus wall, and really in my mind likely at conception, but I’ll save that for a future post after more research), to abort them at the chance of an issue, when even the father of one of those children said that it would be a “catastrophic loss”? I have enjoyed many TED talks, but this one has caused concern for me. If you want more thoughts on abortion, please read and share my post related to the subject.

Thank you to Amy Entwistle at Flickr Creative Commons for the cover photo.


Now that I’ve gotten your attention with a title that screams controversy, I hope you’ll stick around while I pose some rational questions. I recently watched the Andrew Solomon TED talk which I wrote an article about. In the article I was disputing his “solution” to women who are pregnant with children who have been identified as potentially having Down Syndrome. His solution was an abortion. I completely disagree with that as a solution. Delving into research there was much more information than I could fit in that one article, so I will share some of it here. I looked further and found another TED talk about abortion by Diana Whitten which I can only call radical and also feel the need to address later.

Definitions are important so I will share a few before I get to the meat of this article.

Pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus. – From Planned Parenthood

Abortion – the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. – Google

Using these 2 simple definitions should allow us to avoid all conversation about moment of conception, implantation, fertilization, zygotes, fallopian tubes, etc. and other things that come up  before the point of pregnancy, defined by Planned Parenthood.

So working with this definition of pregnancy and abortion we can look at some facts of this pregnant woman and her baby. Technically called a blastocyst at this point but from here on out we will understand that when I say baby, I am referring to a fertilized egg that has been implanted in the uterus.

One of the main arguments that anti-life people use if that “It’s my body It’s my body and I’d rather not have anyone telling me what to do with it.” – As this anti-life advocate put it so eloquently. I agree. Do what you want with your body. Unfortunately that baby in you is not your body. The baby has it’s own DNA. That’s enough evidence for me right there. Of course there are many other arguments showing that the baby is in fact it’s own entity, such as the development of measurable brain activity, eyes, heartbeat, etc.

The baby is protected (from everyone but it’s own mother!) by the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-212) which basically says that if anyone kills a pregnant woman, they get charged with 2 murders. But if the mother chooses to kill the baby (abortion), it’s not murder? That’s just ridiculous double-speak legal jargon. You tell me why that makes any sense.Hopefully you are reasonable enough to say that you’d never kill your already born child at least? Apparently I can’t even make that as a blanket statement if you consider the document published by the Journal for Medical Ethics. (seems they need a rename to the Journal of Questionable Ethics). While I completely support their right to publish an article like this, I completely disagree with their findings, but it (hopefully) helps me make a case to end abortions.

“They preferred to use the phrase “after-birth abortion” rather than “infanticide” to “emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus”.

As far as I know it’s always been illegal to kill a child once they are born. Working back from birth, what is fundamentally different for the child at 1 day before he or she is born? Nothing. There is the discussion of viability. What is the definition of viability? From my understanding it’s a pretty general term of when the baby would have a chance to survive outside the mother’s womb (with no life support, etc). The reason this has no importance in the discussion of abortion is there is no reason the child would need to be outside the womb. The baby is right where it needs to be in that phase of it’s life. And also, the baby isn’t viable by itself once it is born, iit still needs someone to care for it once it’s outside the womb, which is what the Journal argues above is a good reason for infanticide! In fact, very few people in the world are viable all by ourselves. You are? Did you build the car you drive to work every day? Did you make the computer you are reading this on? Did you grow all the food in your house? Did you build your house? No. Civilization is founded on community, not killing anyone who can’t take care of themselves. So if viability is your argument for abortion, please reconsider your stance.

One question I’ve always had for the abortion people is “Why is abortion the solution?” In our society we know what happens when 2 people have sex, you can get pregnant. Shouldn’t we focus on having strong families that will raise and love children, instead of having as much sex as we want and destroying any life that comes from it?

I’d like to highlight some abortion statistics from the Guttmacher Institute below.

Women in their 20’s account for more than half of all abortions: Women aged 20–24 obtain 33% of all abortions, and women aged 25–29 obtain 24%.

Forty-two percent of women obtaining abortions have incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level ($10,830 for a single woman with no children).

Here are some statistics from the CDC.

In 2010, unmarried women accounted for 85% of all abortions (CDC).

Black women were 3.7 times more likely to have an abortion in 2010 than non-Hispanic white women (CDC)

Do you fall into any of those categories?

Do you think you might actually be being targeted for abortions?

Abortion happening any time after pregnancy (as defined above) is wrong.

I want to close with a few quotes

“It is easier to believe a lie that one has heard a thousand times before than to believe a fact that one has never heard.” – Robert Lynd (Maybe, quotes are notoriously misattributed, but that doesn’t take away from their truth.)

The lies I’m referring to here are

  1. Abortion is ok.
  2. A baby is not a person.

“I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.”

Ronald Reagan (The actor, and former President of the United States)

Thank you to Amy Entwistle at Flickr Creative Commons for the cover photo.