While the nation was cringing last week and every media outlet buzzing about the neo-Nazi imagery from Charlottesville, another story reminiscent of the Third Reich emerged from, of all places, Iceland.
CBS tweeted out the story with the tagline: “Iceland is on pace to virtually eliminate Down syndrome through abortion.”
“With the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe and the United States,” read the report, “the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased, but few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.”
More than a few people found the tone of the article and its headline…celebratory. Among them was actress Patricia Heaton, whom you may remember as Deborah from “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Heaton blasted CBS for the headline and the story, pointing out that “Iceland isn’t actually eliminating Down syndrome. They’re just killing everybody that has it. Big difference.”
Amen. Of course, as CBS goes on to admit, “Many people born with Down syndrome can live full, healthy lives, with an average lifespan of around 60 years.”
That’s not the half of it, actually. Research published in 2011 in the American Journal of Medical Genetics found that 99 percent of individuals with Down syndrome report being happy, 94 percent of their siblings express pride in their brother or sister with Down syndrome, and just 4 percent of parents regretted their decision to keep their child.
This is important for one simple reason: The entire argument for aborting children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is based on quality of life. It’s not a medical concern.
Such children, goes the argument, are an unwelcome burden on their parents or on society, and in the end, will live unhappy lives. So, “it will be better for them,” we are told.
But if you or a friend has someone with Down syndrome in the family, you know nothing could be further from the truth! Those with “Downs” are often the most joyful and loving people you meet.
Even more horrifying, Iceland is a small country, but other larger nations aren’t lagging far behind in this eugenics experiment. In Denmark, 98 percent of children diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb are killed. In France, it’s 77 percent. And in the U. S. it’s a shameful 67 percent.
When asked why such high percentages of babies with Down syndrome are aborted, Icelandic geneticist Kari Stefansson admitted it wasn’t for medical reasons. Rather, it’s due to “heavy-handed genetic counseling,” or pressure by authority figures to abort.
One pregnancy counselor in Iceland told CBS, “We don’t look at abortion as a murder…We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication…preventing suffering for the child and for the family.” Or in other words, trust us, “it’s for your own good…”
Tell that to Thordis Ingadottir and her beautiful seven-year-old daughter, Augusta, one of the few people in Iceland with Down syndrome who hasn’t been killed. The pair have become crusaders for those with disabilities, so that they will be “fully integrated on [their] own terms” into society. After all, asks her mom, “What kind of society do you want to live in?”
That’s a good question, as prenatal screening becomes more widely available, and much of the world grapples with this new breed of eugenics. Make no mistake—what we’re witnessing here is the systematic extermination of children who are, by society’s standards, less than perfect. It’s worth remembering that the first groups killed by the Nazis in their quest for perfection by eugenics were those with disabilities.
Will ours be a similar society, in which we claim to eliminate disabilities by eliminating those who have them? It’s up to you and me to decide.
Pray that our culture has a mind and heart change to save and not abort babies with Down syndrome. And put your pro-life convictions into action by taking time to support, encourage and give hands-on help to friends and families with Down syndrome members.