The World Health Organization (WHO) received fierce criticism for calling Down syndrome a “severe birth defect.”
In a blog post discussing “World Birth Defects Day,” the WHO explained that birth defects take “a significant toll on individuals, families, health care systems and societies.” Congenital heart defects, neural tube defects, and hemoglobin disorders were featured alongside Down syndrome.
The WHO — which voices support for “comprehensive abortion care services” — highlights in the blog post that “ultrasound can be used to screen for Down syndrome and major structural abnormalities during the first trimester, and for severe fetal anomalies during the second trimester.”
On Twitter, however, parents with special needs children — especially those with Down syndrome — responded to the WHO’s callous approach toward the matter.
“Please could you explain how #DownSyndrome is a birth defect in the context of the determining criteria you are using,” one mother asked. “Surely you mean #GeneticCondition? The presence of an extra chromosome does not make my son defective and I do not see any defect in this image!”
Please could you explain how #DownSyndrome is a birth defect in the context of the determining criteria you are using. Surely you mean #GeneticCondition ? The presence of an extra chromosome does not make my son defective and I do not see any defect in this image! pic.twitter.com/nSw09zHmV4
— Kate Harris (@welshkate) March 4, 2022
“@WHO we are shocked, this post seems defective,” another user said. “Please clarify that you do NOT believe people with #DownSyndrome are defective and you do NOT think they should be prevented. … and you believe in #HealthForAll, however many chromosomes.”
“#DownSyndrome is NOT a severe birth defect that is preventable. It is a genetic variation,” a third user explained. “This post is false and needs to be edited/removed. I’m appalled that the World Health Organization doesn’t know the difference. PS nothing about my son is defective.”
#DownSyndrome is NOT a severe birth defect that is preventable. It is a genetic variation. This post is false and needs to be edited/removed. I’m appalled that the World Health Organization doesn’t know the difference. PS nothing about my son is defective 👇🏻👇🏻💙💛♾ pic.twitter.com/xna0MtIPgd
— Evolution Vintage (@EvolutionVtg) March 5, 2022
“So you are telling me this girl is a ‘birth defect’? Down syndrome is not a birth defect!” another user added. “Time to educate yourselves.”
So you are telling me this girl is a “birth defect”? Down syndrome is not a birth defect! Time to educate yourselves. pic.twitter.com/2Pe7lVAupR
— Chris Wolfe (@Wolfie_64) March 5, 2022
Down syndrome arises from a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome, resulting in altered mental and physical development. As Down syndrome activist Katie Shaw explained at the most recent March for Life, “There is a waiting list of babies with Down syndrome to be adopted.” However, many children conceived with the condition are aborted.
“I am broken-hearted to think of all my friends who are not here today because of abortion,” Shaw, who happens to have Down syndrome, said at the event. “We all have an equal life, and it starts in the womb. Everybody has a soul, no matter how small.”
In a recent interview with The Daily Wire, Dennis Sarfate and Zach Lautenschlager — who lead Action for Life, the legislative arm of the Christian ministry End Abortion Now — explained that abortion is the murder of an image-bearer of God, meaning that government officials must ensure equal protection under the law for preborn babies.
“Life starts at conception — that is a baby,” Sarfate, a former MLB pitcher, explained. “That is a human being worthy of respect and worthy of protection. God even calls it murder. We don’t have the authority to take life … You’re killing an innocent human being that deserves life, that God is allowing to be put into a woman.”