Last Monday I wrote something fairly positive about Iceland’s culture, but before you make plans to move there, there’s more news. I wrote that their drug and alcohol use among teens has gone down. There were a couple of main features of that success: involving youth in positive activities, and getting families to spend more time together.
But what happens when the family doesn’t pass along the basic values required for civilization? Those are valuing God, life, family, property, and truth.
The news, right after last Monday’s post, was this CBS News headline: “Iceland is on pace to virtually eliminate Down syndrome through abortion.”
Now, if you’re a normal human, you would think that eliminating Down syndrome would include something related to therapy, or maybe genetic engineering. Something that would alleviate the difficulties people with Down syndrome face, right?
Instead, this skewed view rejoices in eliminating the syndrome by eliminating the people who have it. Iceland, along with Denmark and China, have lowered to near zero the number of births with Down syndrome—by preventing the birth of those with Down syndrome. They kill them.
As Alexandra DeSanctis said at National Review:
But Iceland isn’t “eliminating Down syndrome” at all. It’s eliminating people. The callous tone of the piece makes selective abortion sound like a technological innovation rather than what it really is: the intentional targeting of “unfit” persons for total elimination.
They have done nothing to improve the lives of those with Down syndrome; they have given up on that—even though people born with Down syndrome are living and enjoying happy and productive lives wherever we find them. They have decided these people are subhuman and not worth allowing to live.
|A Special Olympics event from 2006. Our kids, and other|
youth from church volunteered at this event for several years.
Lest we feel superior for not being like Iceland, the US rate for aborting Down syndrome babies is at least 67%. So two out of every three of these precious babies is killed, maybe as many as 9 out of 10. British moms kill 90% of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome. Europe averages 92%.
France is approaching totality. They recently banned a video in which people with Down syndrome were portrayed living happy lives—because it hurt the sensibilities of the women who had aborted their Down syndrome babies.
This is the video: “Dear Future Mom” from 2014 World Down Syndrome Day:
Sometimes a comparison helps us see more clearly. Let’s say that science came up with a way to assess, with a prenatal test, which babies were at risk for developing type 1 diabetes. It’s a lifelong trial. There are health issues involved through one’s entire life. There are resources that need to go toward medication and testing. Maybe an insulin pump. What if somebody decided to declare those lives not worth living, and that it would be a kindness to prevent the suffering by killing anyone with the genetic predisposition?
Does that do anything to further medicine? Or improve the lives of diabetics? Think about the people you know (there are probably several) who are type 1 diabetics. Do you wish they had never been born? Would the world have been better off without Mary Tyler Moore, Peter O’Toole, baseball legend Jackie Robinson, author Anne Rice, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor? Would they have been better off never living, rather than living a life with the limitations of diabetes?
We might not find as many Down syndrome people who are famous for major accomplishments. But there are a great many people among us who aren’t famous for our accomplishments. More likely we are significant to those we work and live among, and especially to those we love.
People with Down syndrome can learn, and can be healthy. Sometimes minor surgeries are required. Sometimes therapies can help. NACD.org does brain research and develops exercises for a wide range of brain disorders. They teach parents to do the therapy, because frequency, intensity, and duration are required for brain change, and that means daily—sometimes more than once daily—exercises, where a weekly visit to a therapist just isn’t enough. Their results show that Down syndrome people can be developed to average levels—which is enough to graduate from high school, do productive work, and carry out fulfilled lives.
If there were a push to actually “eliminate” Down syndrome, it would be to further these therapies, which help not only Down syndrome people, but a range of other health issues as well. That would be worth celebrating.
There’s a particular talent common to a high percentage of Down syndrome people. It’s obvious to anyone who has spent time among them. It is their ability to love those around them. They give and accept love without limits. And, while they can experience a full range of emotions, they often choose to be happy. (See this video: “Happy” from 2014 World Down Syndrome Day. And while you’re at it, check out this one: “Not Special Needs,” from this year.)
|This pretty girl is the daughter of a friend.|
She just turned 1. It's hard to
imagine a world without this sweet face.
Some Down syndrome people, in my experience, have spiritual strength beyond many (maybe most) of us. There are several sacred stories of these special people having a connection to heaven that I won’t tell here. But here’s a quote from a young Down syndrome girl who was asked what she thought about God.
I love God.
I can hear him in my mind.
I can hear his finest whispers.
He says He loves me too.
This is not the kind of thinking that comes from someone so subhuman she should not be allowed to be born. This is someone worthy of love, who is contributing to our civilization.
If there were a genetic test for those who would become eugenicists, that might be useful knowledge. Not so we could kill them while they are still innocent, but so that we could do therapy—with the frequency, intensity, and duration that retrains the brain—to teach them not to choose that murderous path.