CBS News’s tweet promoting the story read simply: “Iceland is on pace to virtually eliminate Down syndrome through abortion.”
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.
In France, for example, the State Council banned from the airwaves a video featuring children with Down syndrome talking about their happy lives. The advertisement was meant to comfort mothers who received a prenatal diagnosis and assure them that their children would have beautiful, largely normal lives. The ad was forbidden by the French government because the smiles of the children would “disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices” — in other words, because seeing them happy would upset women who had aborted their Down syndrome children.
“We don’t look at abortion as a murder,” she said. “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.”
Jerome Lejeune, the French geneticist who discovered the chromosomal basis for Down syndrome, once offered this perspective: “It cannot be denied that the price of these diseases is high — in suffering for the individual and in burdens for society. Not to mention what parents suffer! But we can assign a value to that price: It is precisely what a society must pay to remain fully human.”
As Agusta grows up, "I will hope that she will be fully integrated on her own terms in this society. That's my dream," Ingadottir (mother of a child with Downes syndrome) said. "Isn't that the basic needs of life? What kind of society do you want to live in?"
Iceland Eliminates People with Down Syndrome
Pre-natal tests were introduced in the early 2000s, and the vast majority who receive a positive test have terminated their pregnancy.
While the tests are optional, all expectant mothers are informed about their availability, and up to 85 per cent choose to take it.