By Brenna Lewis, SFLA Appalachain Regional Coordinator
If you’ve been online recently, you’ve probably seen some of the huge uproar following a CBS story about Iceland’s Down Syndrome abortion rates. One would think, based on the victorious tone of CBS and other progressive news outlets, that Iceland had somehow found a cure or way to prevent the chromosome disorder in utero. So, has Iceland “virtually eliminated” Down Syndrome? Not quite.
Instead, they eliminate almost 100% of people with the condition.
The government mandates that pregnant women be offered a prenatal test that screens for chromosome abnormalities. Majority of women choose to take the test, and almost all mothers who receive test results that could indicate Down Syndrome choose abortion (despite the fact that the test is about 85% accurate). As a result, an average or two or three babies are born with Down Syndrome in Iceland each year. That’s it. Let’s examine some of the finer points from our pals at CBS:
- “[…] few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.”
Contained within the first sentence of the article we have our first red flag. Firstly, this is a congratulatory statement, as if Iceland is winning a race we’re all running. Secondly, there’s quite a conflict of interests coming from a party who claim to champion minority rights, yet are excited about the termination of a minority. They tread a thin line by terming it “eradicating births.” We know this to mean aborting a child before it is born, whereas many readers will gloss over that point as if no child had been conceived in the first place.
- “Many people born with Down syndrome can live full, healthy lives, with an average lifespan of around 60 years. Other countries aren’t lagging too far behind in Down syndrome termination rates.”
This part almost seems like a joke, as if the author couldn’t see how ridiculous these statements are right next to each other. “These people are valuable. Here are the other countries doing a great job at eliminating them.” Perhaps the only way to defend abortion anymore is to not listen to what you’re saying.
- “Iceland has on average just one or two children born with Down syndrome per year, sometimes after their parents received inaccurate test results […] “Some of them were low risk in our screening test, so we didn’t find them in our screening.”
This reads ice-cold. The first part points out the stark reality of how few babies with Down Syndrome make it to birth, which is tragic in and of itself. The second part suggests that these babies were only born because they slipped through the test, and that their parents would have otherwise chosen abortion. Anyone who doesn’t believe this isn’t a targeted hunt ought to be a bit more convinced by the doctor’s phrasing: “we didn’t find them.”
- Helga Sol Olafsdottir counsels women who have a pregnancy with a chromosomal abnormality. They speak to her when deciding whether to continue or end their pregnancies. Olafsdottir tells women who are wrestling with the decision or feelings of guilt: “This is your life — you have the right to choose how your life will look like.”
My body, my choice, right? Medical professionals have a heightened obligation to provide women with the entire truth because they are so heavily trusted by their patients. As the expert, this counselor holds so much power over the lives of these children. That women feel guilty making this decision entitles them to at least an unbiased opinion.
- “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.”
Abortion sounds so pretty when it’s packaged as a merciful act. First the humanity is removed by calling it a “possible life.” Next, there’s a faux assurance that it’s preventing suffering for everyone involved. A novel could be written about everything that is wrong with this, but the simplest issues are the lack of dignity and the airy assumptions. Referring to babies who were terminated because they have Down Syndrome as “a thing that we ended” is cold, indifferent, and dangerous. That person only “may” have had a “huge complication,” and this was enough reason to end his/her life? And what is this “more right” business? Are right and wrong on a spectrum as well now?
Advocates for the rights of the disabled, pro-life advocates, and honestly just society in general should be horrified by this. Deciding that someone should be allowed to be killed by virtue of their age (i.e. typical abortions) is bad enough, but the increasing trends in sex-selective and fetal abnormality abortions make it blatantly clear that we’re headed towards a eugenicist’s utopia. Each step we take leads farther down the slippery slope until nobody’s life seems valuable. People with Down Syndrome are some of the kindest, most loving individuals on this earth. That any society would seek to wipe them out is unimaginable.