The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 25, 2008

Faith, not 'facts', carries woman forward

NEW CASTLE, Pa. — Search the Internet, and there are several “80s” that come up in reference to Down syndrome.

Eighty percent of babies with Down syndrome are born to women who are under age 35, the March of Dimes reports.

With recent advancements in clinical treatment, as many as 80 percent of adults with Down syndrome reach age 55, and many live even longer, according to the National Down Syndrome Society.

However, the most prevalent “80” — appearing on multiple sites — is that in America, more than 80 percent of babies diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are aborted.

Bobbie McIlwain, though, refused to go along with the crowd. Today, because of her resolve, she and her husband, Jeff, are the parents of healthy 17-month-old twin girls.

During her pregnancy, McIlwain was told that certain test results showed that one of the girls had Down syndrome and that the other likely had a bilateral cleft lip and/or palate.

Despite the fact that she was encouraged to have an abortion, McIlwain and her husband made the decision to continue to carry the twins, then stuck by it.

“I was determined that God had hand picked my babies for me, that these were the ones I was meant to have,” said McIlwain, who, along with her husband, is a member of New Life Baptist Church.

“He must have thought that I was going to be a pretty special mom to give me such a special delivery.”



PRESSURE

Once doctors told McIlwain of their diagnoses regarding her unborn twins, they recommended that she and her husband see a genetic counselor, who would tell them about their options.

“Up until the time of my appointment, I kept asking myself, ‘what options?’ ” McIlwain said. “We found out what they were looking for. Our counselor told us that the best option would be to terminate the pregnancy.”

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