This story has been re-published because Huffington Post has chosen Medford's Melanie McLaughlin and her daughter Grace as today's "Greatest Person of the Day." Check out McLaughlin and other greatest people of the day here.
When Melanie McLaughlin found out her unborn daughter had Down syndrome in 2007, she was faced with an unimaginably difficult decision.
"We all like to think we know what we’ll do, but you don’t really know until until you're faced with it," McLaughlin said in a phone interview Thursday.
After meeting with a family with a child with Down syndrome and much research, McLaughlin, 46, decided to keep her daughter, now four and named Grace.
McLaughlin now helps other parents in the same position as a volunteer with Parents First Call, an organization that gives non-directive support to mothers who have discovered their unborn child has Down syndrome.
“At the time, I really struggled with my decision,” McLaughlin said. “I had to do a lot of research before I could decide whether to continue with the pregnancy or not.”
McLaughlin, who has lived in West Medford for 12 years with her husband Terry and three kids, is featured in a TIME Magazine article "Early Decision" released in February that focuses on the risk of a pre-natal Down syndrome diagnosis. Her and Grace were also featured on CBS This Morning Feb. 22.
At the time of McLaughlin's pregnancy in 2007, the only way to test for pre-natal Down syndrome was through an invasive procedure, which she had. But pregnant women can now take a non-invasive blood test, called MaterniT21.
The new test has raised questions over where the line should be drawn when it comes to pre-natal testing.
"If it's not for Down syndrome what is it for? Is it for homosexuality? Is it for breast cancer? Is it for Alzheimer's? Is it for, you know, autism?" McLaughlin told CBS. "Because you're going to need to ask those questions, because they're coming."
Along with her volunteer work, McLaughlin also runs a monthly support group for parents of children with Down syndrome out of her home. Parents interested can contact her at email@example.com.
Note: The TIME article is behind a paywall. Only subscribers can read the entire article online. The issue, featuring a cover photo of Kim Jong Un, is available on newstands now. You can read more of TIME's coverage of Down syndrome here.