Nearly 100% of Iceland’s Down syndrome children are aborted following prenatal screening.My cousin Melody is in her 30s, but has the mental ability of someone between the ages of five and seven. Melody was born with an extra copy of her 21st chromosome, a condition known as Down syndrome. As a child, I understood none of this. To me, Melody was an older cousin who knew how to have fun with a younger kid like myself. Anyone who knows Melody knows she loves to sing and smile. I remember many church services over the years where she would raise her hand and request a favorite hymn or worship song. (I do believe at one time she may have wanted to sing something from “High School Musical” in church, but then changed her mind). As I grew older, I learned more about what made her a little slower than the other kids and more sensitive to loud noises. While some called my cousin “disabled,” I just thought of her as special.
You can imagine my surprise when I learned that CBS News recently tweeted, “Iceland is on pace to virtually eliminate Down syndrome through abortion.” The linked story revealed troubling information about Iceland’s response to Down syndrome. On average, only two or three Down syndrome children a year are born in Iceland. Nearly 100% of Iceland’s children like Melody are aborted following prenatal screening.
Proponents argue that these abortions do not end lives, but rather eliminate “potential lives” that will be fraught with discomfort and disability. “Why not prevent these children from a difficult future?” they ask.
As an Icelandic counselor provided by Landspitali University Hospital said, “We don't look at abortion as a murder. We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication... preventing suffering for the child and for the family. And I think that is more right than seeing it as a murder – that's so black and white. Life isn't black and white. Life is grey."
Except for these children, it is extremely black and white. One moment they are growing and experiencing the wonders of fetal development in their mother’s womb, the next their hearts are stopped and their bodies ripped apart by an abortionist. One moment there is a heartbeat, the next there is none. I don’t see how it could get any more black and white than that.
That aside, arguments like those of this hospital counselor are predicated on the assumption that Down syndrome people live unfruitful lives full of pain and remorse. By their way of thinking, ending these lives in the womb is more compassionate than letting them endure a lifetime of suffering.
Science shows that is not the case. Not only do individuals with Down syndrome have life expectancies beyond 60 years, they report far more happiness during their lifetimes than people without Down syndrome.
In a study published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, researchers surveyed 284 people with Down syndrome ages 12 and older and asked them questions about their happiness and life-satisfaction. They found:
- 99 percent said they were happy with their lives
- 97 percent liked who they are
- 96 percent liked how they look
- 86 percent indicated they could make friends easily
- Only 4 percent expressed sadness about their life
Apparently, these adults are far more content with their diagnosis than abortion providers want them to be. Some may object here and say that Down syndrome people may have happy lives, but their parents face a lifetime of suffering and hardship. Since abortion is a woman’s “inalienable right,” she can have one to prevent the unhappiness of raising a child with Down syndrome. Once again, research shows this to be an inaccurate assessment.
The same researchers published another study where they interviewed over 2,000 parents of Down syndrome children. They found:
- 99% reported that they loved their son or daughter
- 97% were proud of their child
- 79% felt their outlook on life was more positive because of their child with Down syndrome
- 4% regretted having them.
Despite only 4% of parents saying they regretted having a child with Down syndrome, Iceland is killing approximately 100% of Down syndrome children. Statistics in the U.S. are not much better. Approximately 92% of children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted each year in the United States. When one factors in pregnancies that are not screened for Down syndrome, approximately 67% of Down syndrome children are aborted. Friends of mine living in Virginia were strongly encouraged by their doctor to abort their son after he was diagnosed with Down syndrome. When they refused, the doctor warned them that their lives would be full of pain and hardship. Like the parents in the study above, they now report joy and satisfaction with their decision to save their son’s life. They have never regretted it.
Yet, Planned Parenthood, its International Federation, NARAL, and other abortion activists will defend disability diagnosis abortion to the bitter end. They will continue to argue that Iceland is leading the way in eradicating Down syndrome. This eradication has nothing to do with healing and care and everything to do with violence and death. It makes me think of another time in recent history where a class of people were labeled “undesirable” and the medical, social, and political elites of the day came up with a “final solution” to their malady.
As a pro abundant life person, I recognize such “solutions” for what they are: the widespread elimination of an entire class of individuals—in short, genocide. I believe that parents facing a disability diagnosis need to be equipped with the best research on Down syndrome, research that shows they and their children can experience a full and happy life. Raising a child with Down syndrome has its challenges, but none of these need make for a life full of pain and sorrow.
I believe that legislation like the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act needs to be passed to provide safeguards for children with Down syndrome.
Finally, I believe that legislators, activists, and people on every side of the abortion debate should take the time to watch the video below and listen to what adults with Down syndrome say about their lives. Hear them in their own words and ask yourself, “Do any of these men and women deserve to be killed in the womb?”
I know what Melody would say. “No.”