More families chose life for their unborn babies with Down syndrome last year in Denmark, as pro-life advocates ramped up awareness about the plight of unborn babies with disabilities.
CPH Post Online reports 13 women chose life for their unborn babies with Down syndrome in 2017, up from just two in 2014 and 2015.
In recent years, Danish leaders have touted the fact that nearly all unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in their country were aborted. In 2014, the Danish government reported 98 percent of unborn babies who tested positive for Down syndrome were aborted.
However, increased awareness about abortion and its discriminatory targeting of children with disabilities may be changing hearts and minds.
Olav Bjørn Petersen, a doctor at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, told BT Metro that medical teams are taking a more positive approach when they counsel parents of unborn babies with Down syndrome. He said parents often are encouraged to visit families of children with Down syndrome before making a final decision about abortion.
“It’s difficult to say anything precise about it without having spoken to the families involved, but for whatever reason we have a closer co-operation with the national association for DS [Landsforeningen Downs Syndrom] over the past four years,” Petersen said.
Grete Fält-Hansen, the deputy head of Landsforeningen Downs Syndrom, agreed, telling the news outlet: “Before, we saw a very one-sided focus on what the children would risk suffering from, such as heart issues. But today there is a more nuanced approach and not least an update of the information that is provided for pregnant couples.”
In Denmark, abortions are legal for any reason up to 12 weeks, but unborn babies diagnosed with serious physical or mental disorders may be aborted past the 12-week mark.
Nearby in Iceland, nearly 100 percent of unborn babies with Down syndrome are aborted. CBS reports the rate in France was 77 percent in 2015, 90 percent in the United Kingdom and 67 percent in the United States between 1995 and 2011. Some put the rate as high as 90 percent in the United States, but it is difficult to determine the exact number because the U.S. government does not keep detailed statistics about abortion.
This massive discrimination against unborn babies with disabilities has prompted some U.S. states to pass laws prohibiting abortions on unborn babies with disabilities. Ohio, Indiana and North Dakota also prohibit aborting unborn babies solely based on a Down syndrome diagnosis. However, Planned Parenthood is challenging these laws in court.
Parents whose unborn babies have Down syndrome or other disabilities frequently report feeling pressure to abort them. In 2016, a Florida mom’s letter to her doctor went viral after she exposed how the doctor pressured her to abort her unborn daughter with Down syndrome. Courtney Baker said she wanted her former doctor to see how valuable her daughter’s life is.
Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that many women are not receiving adequate counseling about prenatal testing for Down syndrome and other disorders.