When parents learn that their unborn baby has Down syndrome, the next word they typically hear from their doctor is abortion, disability rights advocate Alecia Talbott told The Tennessean recently.
It is this deadly discrimination that Tennessee state lawmakers aim to end when they passed a wide-ranging pro-life law in June. Among other things, the legislation protects unborn babies from discrimination by banning abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis.
Talbott, the executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee, said doctors often suggest abortions after a Down syndrome diagnosis.
“When the provider says ‘the baby you’re expecting has Down syndrome,’ it’s followed with ‘if you’re going to terminate, you have X amount of time,” Talbott said. “Depending on when that happens, from a parents perspective, it’s almost as if that’s expected, and it scares people into thinking they can’t handle a child with Down syndrome.”
LifeNews has reported many similar stories of parents who said their doctors pressured them to abort their unborn babies because of Down syndrome.
“You can imagine what that would feel like in real life, if someone thought your life had no value and actually suggested that you never be born in the first place,” Talbott told The Tennessean.
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As a result, the abortion rate is approximately 67% for unborn babies with Down syndrome in the U.S. – though data is scarce and the number could be higher.
In other countries, the problem is even worse. According to CBS News, nearly 100% of unborn babies who test positive for Down syndrome are aborted in Iceland. The rate in France was 77% in 2015 and 90% in the United Kingdom.
Pro-life and disability rights groups have been working in various ways to protect unborn babies and educate families about the value of children with Down syndrome.
Talbott’s organization advocated for the Down Syndrome Information Act, which requires the Tennessee Department of Health to provide information about the genetic disorder to families and medical professionals, according to the report. The law passed in 2018. A similar law passed in Pennsylvania in 2014.
When Talbott gave birth to her son Ron, who has Down syndrome, she said the hospital did not give them any information about Down syndrome, and her pediatrician then sent them elsewhere.
“It can be very difficult for families to find medical providers who understand the nuances of Down syndrome,” she said.
Pro-life advocates also have been working to pass anti-discrimination laws across the country. Ohio, North Dakota, Missouri and Indiana also passed laws to protect unborn babies with Down syndrome from discriminatory abortions. However, the abortion industry is challenging many of these laws in court.
Alex Hubbard, a columnist for USA TODAY Network Tennessee, questioned if abortion, though the seemingly easier option, is really the best one.
“Do we want to be ruthlessly loyal to science, shunting away lives that may be complicated but also courageous, or do we want to respond with compassion and love? Compassion and love sound like the better option, but it is also the hardest. It requires us to look deeply at what our society is and what it should be,” Hubbard wrote.
Abortions are never the best option. They are not compassionate or loving. They kill unique, living human beings — vulnerable children who deserve to be protected by society, not thrown away.