The CBS News headline makes it sound as though a medical miracle has been found: Inside the Country Where Down Syndrome is Disappearing. Imagine that! Imagine science finding a way to “disappear” Down syndrome. This is fantastic news coming out of Iceland.
How was this accomplished, you ask? Was it through the wonders of DNA research, the miracle of genetic science?
Iceland is “disappearing” Down syndrome the old-fashioned way. Murder.
With the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe and the United States, the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased, but few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.
Since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the early 2000s, the vast majority of women — close to 100 percent — who received a positive test for Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy.
Now, before we get to it, and believe me we are going to get to it, I want to be clear on something. Out of some misguided notion that the handicapped should not be seen as different, I am not one of those who believes we should not do everything science offers to improve the human species. If we are able to use science as a means to cure Down syndrome, deafness, blindness, depression, addiction and a host of other maladies, by all means, go for it.
For instance, those in the deaf community who rage against cochlear implants… Sorry, that is sheer madness.
But that is not what is happening in Iceland. To properly compare the two, you have to imagine a world in which we are celebrating the “disappearance” of the deaf because we are murdering the deaf, because we are — as CBS News so helpfully puts it — “eradicating” them from the womb.
Imagine if someday we are able to “disappear” from our Perfect Society the unsightly scourge of baldness, the inconvenience of the overweight, the homely, the nervous, the politically incorrect, the homosexual, the low talker, the close talker, anyone who doesn’t look like Florence Henderson.
Let’s be very clear about what this is — literal eugenics, not on paper, not in theory, but eugenics in practice. To “eradicate” the undesirable and inconvenient, Iceland is using science as a weapon of genocide against a specific group of human beings.
Believe it or not, the news gets impossibly worse, because this is happening right here in America:
Other countries aren’t lagging too far behind in Down syndrome termination rates. According to the most recent data available, the United States has an estimated termination rate for Down syndrome of 67 percent (1995-2011); in France it’s 77 percent (2015); and Denmark, 98 percent (2015). The law in Iceland permits abortion after 16 weeks if the fetus has a deformity — and Down syndrome is included in this category.
Now read this paragraph closely, embrace the monstrous subtext:
When Thordis Ingadottir was pregnant with her third child at the age of 40, she took the screening test. The results showed her chances of having a child with Down syndrome were very slim, odds of 1 in 1,600. However, the screening test is only 85 percent accurate. That year, 2009, three babies were born with Down syndrome in Iceland, including Ingadottir’s daughter Agusta, who is now 7.
Oops. Sometimes one gets through!
Moreover, based on odds — ODDS! — babies are being exterminated, and how many of those “terminated” babies would not have been born with Down syndrome? Why doesn’t CBS News even raise that possibility?
And now the kicker:
[Counselor Helga Sol] Olafsdottir responded [to an anti-abortion activist], “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.”
If this is such a moral good, isn’t it odd, then, that 99.99% of those who are burdened with a “huge complication” in their life, or who suffer (disease, depression, loneliness, chronic pain) choose not to exercise this wondrous good of not existing through suicide?
Final point: This is happening to Down syndrome babies for only one reason. Unlike the rest of the handicapped community, those with Down syndrome do not have a voice, do not organize, do not express the kind of outrage that makes for good teeeveeee. This population is completely innocent, guileless, helpless and at our mercy — a fact that makes their “disappearing” all the more demonic.