Pope Francis surprised the audience gathered for the 25th anniversary of the Forum of Family Associations just a few days ago by forgoing his carefully prepared remarks to speak candidly on marriage, family life, and human dignity. His message was simple but definitive: “family life… is a sacrifice, but a good sacrifice.”
With this message of family sacrifice as a backdrop, Pope Francis identified abortion as one of the most profound tragedies plaguing the family today. “Have you ever asked yourselves why we do not see many dwarves on the streets?” he asked, “Because the protocol of many doctors – many, not all — is to ask the question: ‘Is this a problem?’ It pains me to say so. In the last century, the world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to ensure racial purity. Today we do the same thing, but wearing white gloves.”
A doctor’s white gloves, created to envelop the hands of healers, are instead being used by abortionists every day around the world to extinguish the lives of those that some deem “unfit” for society. But who decides the “unfit”?
Many physicians and caregivers view a difficult prenatal diagnosis as an unbearable and unacceptable life sentence. We know through years of strong static research that children with disease or disabilities, most notably Down syndrome, are disproportionately targeted for abortion.
Denmark boasts a 98 percent termination rate of babies who test positive for Down syndrome, followed by the United Kingdom at 90 percent, the United States at an estimated 85 percent and France at 77 percent.
In a 2016 CBS story, Iceland shockingly claimed to be on the verge of “eradicating” Down syndrome. One medical practitioner even justified this practice by stating that she is working to “prevent suffering.” Unfortunately, this misguided perception of people with Down syndrome is not unpopular.
Although many scholars have challenged the medical community to approach families testing positive for Down syndrome in a more receptive and positive manner, many parents continue to experience pressure from doctors, loved ones, and others to abort their children after receiving an abnormal prenatal diagnosis.
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But studies conducted out of Harvard reveal that families who choose life in such situations are not at all destined to lives of misery. On the contrary, families who have a child with Down syndrome identify very high levels of satisfaction and happiness.
People with Down syndrome also self-report very fulfilling and joyful lives. While a person’s worth is not defined by levels of happiness, these studies have an important story to tell. Ultimately, a person’s human dignity has nothing to do with appearance, disease, age, or ability.
Human dignity as well as the capacity for happiness is inherent simply because each and every person, from the moment of conception, is a gift that brings unbounded joy, even when accompanied by difficult circumstances.
Pope Francis was correct to explicitly label abortion as modern-day eugenics. Sadly, these “white glove” losses of unrepeatable persons impact not only their immediate family, but our larger culture as well. Instead of treating children with disabilities, like Down syndrome, as burdensome or unwanted, it is our hope that families learn to welcome, love, and embrace them, seeing them for what they are, truly little miracles.
LifeNews Note: Jeanne Mancini is the president of the March for Life.