Former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin, issued a Facebook post inviting famed atheist activist Richard Dawkins to come meet her six-year-old son, Trig, who has Down syndrome after Dawkins tweeted last week that he felt it was "immoral" not to "abort and try again" when an unborn baby has been diagnosed with Down's.
While most people did not respond kindly through social media to Dawkins' initial tweet, which was a response to a woman who asked his advice about the moral dilemma of what to do when pregnant with a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome, Palin did not criticize Dawkins for what he tweeted. Instead, she seemed to acknowledged his point of view and extended an invitation for Dawkins to come meet her son in hopes that he would see the "beauty" that lies beneath the diagnosis.
Palin's Facebook post, which included 11 pictures of Trig, reads as follows:
I'd let you meet my son if you promised to open your mind, your eyes, and your heart to a unique kind of absolute beauty.
But, in my request for you to be tolerant, I'd have to warn Trig he must be tolerant, too, because he may superficially look at you as kind of awkward. I'll make sure he's polite, though!
Sarah Palin & family
Palin admits that her personal feelings has been altered about having a child with Down syndrome. She admits that when she first found out that her unborn baby was diagnosed with the genetic disorder, she was afraid. She was so scared that she did not discuss the pregnancy of her fifth child and hid the pregnancy from the national media. She hid the pregnancy so well that many in the mainstream media questioned if Trig was, in fact, Palin's son.
"When I discovered early in my pregnancy that my baby would be born with an extra chromosome, the diagnosis of Down syndrome frightened me so much that I dared not discuss my pregnancy for many months," Palin told Newsweek Magazine. "All I could seem to muster was a calling out to God to prepare my heart for what was ahead."
Although Palin had an initial uneasiness about coping with a child with special needs, she has ultimately come to terms with Trig's condition and considers his presence a blessing.
"It's a sacrifice every parent and caregiver of a child with special needs sympathizes with," Palin said. "Yes, we face extra fears and challenges, but our children are a blessing, and the rest of the world is missing out in not knowing this."
For his part, Dawkins was quick to retort to critics, pointing out that his stance is "not outlandish but the norm," stating the fact that most Down syndrome fetuses are aborted in the U.S. and Europe, which is accurate according to IJReview.com. In his tweets, Dawkins also advised parents who have received a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome that "suffering should be avoided. Cause no suffering. Reduce suffering wherever you can."
However, the notion that those born with Down syndrome and their families are destined to be unhappy and "suffer" is not completely accurate according to an NBC News report on three surveys released by Boston's Children's Hospital in 2011.
One of the surveys, which polled 2,044 parents, found that 79 percent of parents of children with Down syndrome claim their outlook on life is "more positive" because of that child.
Another Children's Hospital survey found that of adults who have Down syndrome, 99 percent of them were happy with their lives, 97 percent liked who they were and 96 percent liked how they looked.
"My prayers were answered beyond my shallow understanding of what true joy could be," Palin said. "At the end of the day, I wouldn't trade the relative difficulties for any convenience or absence of fear. God knew what he was doing when he blessed us with Trig."