“Eliminating Down Syndrome” and Misleading Language

By James Arnold | August 30, 2017 |

If somebody told you they’d figured out a way to eliminate Down syndrome, you’d be right to celebrate. Great, you might say, now we’ve figured out a way to cure it, and those people affected by it can receive treatment!

The reality of the phrase “cure,” unfortunately, is far more sinister.

Iceland is the focus for the application of the phrase and its unfortunate reality. You see, the “cure” for Down syndrome is not medication or any other kind of treatment. The “cure” is abortion, and Iceland boasts a near 100 percent rate of aborting children with Down syndrome.

This CBS report recently took the web by storm. Watch it in full, and you’ll see both the joys of people with Down syndrome and the desire to end their lives before they are even born.

Here’s what the reporter says early on in the video, to give you an idea of what we are in for:

Children like Augusta are becoming increasingly rare here in Iceland. That’s because over the last decade or so, 100 percent of pregnant women whose prenatal tests have come back positive for Down syndrome have decided to end their pregnancies. […] There are similar trends across Europe, a stark contrast with the United States, where parents decide to end 67 percent of these pregnancies.

The story is horrific. People with Down syndrome are just as valuable as any other human being; they have not lost their personhood.

For some, the story is too much. Over at Commentary Magazine, Charlotte “Charlie” Fien, who has Down syndrome (and autism), decided to speak out. The piece notes that Fien spoke to the United Nations in Geneva, where she said this:

We just have an extra chromosome. We are still human beings. Human beings. We are not monsters. Don’t be afraid of us. We are people with different abilities and strengths. Don’t feel sorry for me. My life is great … Please do not try to kill us all off.

A common response to this from those who would support ending the lives of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome runs something like this: “Certainly there are exceptions, but as a rule, people with Down syndrome are not capable of living sufficiently fulfilling lives.”

This argument hinges on the premise that only people with “sufficiently fulfilling lives” have a right to life. But this premise is very obviously subjective. It could easily be used to kill anybody who does not have a “sufficiently fulfilling life.” What of somebody who is homeless? Or somebody who is afflicted with a form of schizophrenia or dementia? What of somebody who is elderly and has no living family? Should we, as a society, accept that it is okay to kill those individuals?

No. We should fight to help them. And helping people in need starts with those who are not yet born.

The unborn have a right to life not because they have a “sufficiently fulfilling life” or because they will have one eventually. They are valuable for the same reason you and I are valuable: We are all human beings.

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