“Iceland is on pace to virtually eliminate Down syndrome through abortion”
Without getting into a debate on abortion in general, there are still many reasons this CBS headline makes me furious.
1). Take that headline and replace the words Down syndrome with women…or jews…fat people….short people…or pretty much any minority group. It would NEVER happen. The country would go nuts (as they should). So why is it ok for Down syndrome? This isn’t Iceland where one or two people per year are born with Down syndrome. This is the USA where there are approximately 6,000 people with Down syndrome born per year. That means there are lots of Americans whose lives are touched by Down syndrome. Know your audience CBS. All I can think is that they either don’t care or that they didn’t give the Down syndrome community enough credit to even think they might be offended by the story. Either way CBS should be ashamed of using such an offensive headline.
2). Isn’t this the age of tolerance and acceptance? There sure is lots of talk about it recently. Why is it that the treatment of people with disabilities usually isn’t even considered in the discussion of tolerance. Trump proposed a wall to close the U.S. borders and put a travel ban into place to keep certain foreign groups out of the country. People on both sides of the issue flipped out. There were protests and anti-protest protests. Everybody had something to say about it. Regardless of your stance on immigration, I’d like to point out that this news story is an example of the pretty open and socially accepted discussion on how a country is trying to keep people with Down syndrome out. These are not travelers or immigrants, these are babies who would be citizens. We’re not talking about not allowing people into a country. We’re talking about not even allowing any of them to be born. The wording CBS used in the title of the story gives it a positive tone. This is not a medical breakthrough. They haven’t developed some sort of vaccine or advancement in modern medicine. Polio was eradicated. This is not eradicating anything. Where is the outrage? How come generalizing & discriminating against entire populations of people by building border walls, imposing travel bans and passing bathroom bills is considered hate & bigotry but “eradicating” people with Down syndrome is acceptable?
3). I’m pro-life but I understand that abortion is a legal option for women. Whether I agree with it or not, I’m sure it’s a pretty excruciating choice to have to make. The women in Iceland may think it is their choice. However, the story says almost 100% of women in Iceland who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome terminate the pregnancy. That doesn’t sound like a choice to me. They’re being influenced somehow whether they know it or not. It could be doctors or social pressure or something else. I don't know. Judging by the story, the doctors in Iceland don’t seem to really understand Down syndrome. They obviously aren’t around anyone with Down syndrome because their views about it are outdated and inaccurate. I don’t personally agree with abortion. However, I do understand that not everyone feels capable of caring for a child with special needs. Isn’t it highly suspect that NOBODY in Iceland with a prenatal diagnosis feels up to the challenge? Really…or has our world just decided that we can only accept genetic “perfection”? Good luck with that. I’d be willing to bet there are millions of genetically “perfect” people in this world that are a bigger drain on society than our Landree could ever be.
I’m angry with CBS for appearing to approve or almost give kudos at the thought of eliminating all children like Landree, who is such a blessing for our family. I’m also angry at the doctors for not providing these women with accurate information. I think that’s why it’s so important to educate people; show them the reality of what Down syndrome is. It isn’t sad. They aren’t locked up in institutions. They aren’t helpless. Their quality of life can be great. I just don’t believe that 100% of the babies diagnosed with Down syndrome would be aborted if people really understood. Education should be a goal that both sides of the abortion debate can agree on. For those that believe in choice, who would want to have to make that choice with information that isn’t reliable? My guess would be nobody.