You might have missed an exceptional report on CBS News this week. The network dispatched its “On Assignment Team” of Julian Quinones, Arijeta Lajka and correspondent Elaine Quijano to far-flung Iceland, a nation of considerable news interest because “few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births.”
How on earth did they do it? According to the August 14 story, “since [optional] 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.”
To the reporters’ credit, they didn’t take the “optional” qualifier at face value. Delving deeper, they discovered more subtle governmental and societal pressures promote both the prenatal screening tests and the determination to abort an unborn child with Down syndrome:
The government states that all expectant mothers must be informed about availability of screening tests, which reveal the likelihood of a child being born with Down syndrome. Around 80 to 85 percent of pregnant women choose to take the prenatal screening test.
Then pressure is exerted at the counseling stage. As geneticist Kari Stefansson, founder of deCODE Genetics, explained to Quijano: “[There is] a relatively heavy-handed genetic counseling… And I don’t think that heavy-handed genetic counseling is desirable. …You’re having impact on decisions that are not medical, in a way.”
In this nation of roughly 330,000 people, that impact is “Iceland has on average just one or two children born with Down Syndrome per year”—an evidently unsettling development for Stefansson. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with aspiring to have healthy children, but how far we should go in seeking those goals is a fairly complicated decision.”
Not for Down Syndrome advocate and activist Thordis Ingadottir, who knows her 7-year-old daughter Agusta is a blessing. “I will hope that she will be fully integrated on her own terms in this society,” she told CBS. “That’s my dream. Isn’t that the basic needs of life? What kind of society do you want to live in?”
One answer comes from Helga Sol Olafsdottir at Landspitali University Hospital. She counsels women whose pregnancies have a chromosomal abnormality: “This is your life—you have the right to choose how your life will look like.” Rationalizing away her promotion of abortions of “convenience,” Olafsdottir elaborates:
“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. And I think that is more right than seeing it as a murder—that’s so black and white. Life isn’t black and white. Life is grey.”
Is there any more ghoulish proof of Hannah Arendt’s “sad truth…that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil”?
No, Olafsdottir and her Icelandic eugenicists’ dystopia is not the kind of society we want.
The challenge from our Creator is to maximize for good the gifts He has given each of us. It is evil to mark for extermination and extinction another child of God because he or she does not live up to some pompous, barbarous bastard’s arbitrary standard of “potential.” Thus in our perverse and perilous millennium does murder masquerade as “mercy”; and Europe slips deeper into the godless abyss, where elitists, technocrats, and eugenicists decide who lives and dies by diktat.
Perhaps, we of this belief are in the minority—indeed, the CBS report reveals that America’s estimated abortion rate for unborn children with Down Syndrome is nearly 67 percent. But let us never submit to the eugenicists’ despicable screed of strengthening the “species” by slaughtering our innocent. For we cannot strengthen humanity by diminishing our own. That is not a society we would want to live; nor would we long last.
To paraphrase Robert Frost: I think I know enough of hate to say that, for destruction, Iceland is also great and would suffice.
Unless we embrace the culture of life.
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