Prominent evangelical leader James Dobson has responded to a CBS News report that’s lauding the European nation of Iceland for being on the verge of “eradicating Down syndrome births” by aborting 100 percent of babies diagnosed during prenatal screenings.
CBS News reports that since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the 2000s, close to 100 percent of the pregnant women whose unborn babies have tested positive for Down syndrome have terminated their pregnancies. On average, only about one or two Down syndrome babies are born in Iceland every year.
CBS News posted a link to the article in a tweet that stated: “Iceland is on pace to virtually eliminate Down syndrome through abortion.”
Considering the title of the article is “‘What kind of society do you want to live in?’: Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing,” some prominent conservatives and pro-lifers were quick to criticize the article on social media.
The most widely reported response has been that of actress Patricia Heaton, who tweeted on Monday: “Iceland isn’t actually eliminating Down Syndrome. They’re just killing everybody that has it. Big difference.”
On Tuesday night, the 81-year-old Dobson, a Christian psychologist and founder of Focus on the Family who is a well-respected voice among conservative evangelicals, issued a statement that was shared with The Christian Post addressing the CBS report.
“I have rarely seen a story that so closely resembles Nazi-era eugenics as a recent report about Iceland ‘eradicating’ nearly 100 percent of Down syndrome births through abortion,” Dobson said. “This is a trend closely followed by other Western nations including Denmark, France and even the United States. We should all be deeply sorrowful and outraged.”
The CBS News report states that while Iceland’s termination rate for Down syndrome babies is close to 100 percent, the United States’ termination rate for Down syndrome babies was about 67, according to data compiled from 1995 through 2011. Meanwhile, the termination rate in France was measured at 77 percent in 2015. Denmark’s termination rate was measured at 98 percent in 2015.
“This practice is as equally inhumane as the views of the racist bigots who disgraced our country in Charlottesville this past weekend,” Dobson added. “The Bible tells us that ‘we are all fearfully and wonderfully made.’ I know countless parents who would say the same of their own children with Down syndrome.”
“A child born with a chromosome defect is a child made in God’s image, fully capable of living a happy, productive and healthy life,” Dobson continued. “Each of them is blessed with a wide range of unique gifts and abilities, and they are as capable of giving and receiving love just as you and I are. They deserve a chance to live and those of us in the Church must speak out on their behalf. May we place ourselves on the right side of history and fight for the cause of life for all of the unborn.”
In an op-ed published Wednesday, David Harsanyi, a senior editor at The Federalist, issued similar thoughts to Dobson about how selective abortion to weed out children with Down syndrome is a form of “eugenics.” In the op-ed, Harsanyi argues that “Iceland has completed one of the most successful eugenics programs in the contemporary world.”
“If you think that’s overstated, consider that eugenics — the word itself derived from Greek, meaning ‘well born’ — is nothing more than an effort to control breeding to increase desirable heritable characteristics within a population,” Harsanyi wrote. “This can be done through ‘positive’ selection, as in breeding the ‘right’ kinds of people with each other, or in ‘negative’ selection, which is stopping the wrong kinds of people from having children.”
Alexandra Desanctis who writes for the National Review wrote in an op-ed that what is happening in Iceland “isn’t progress” but “eugenics.”
“But Iceland isn’t ‘eliminating Down syndrome’ at all. It’s eliminating people,” she wrote. “The callous tone of the [CBS] piece makes selective abortion sound like a technological innovation rather than what it really is: the intentional targeting of ‘unfit’ persons for total elimination.”
“What kind of culture does it require to foster such a mindset, to foster a society in which nearly every mother of a Down syndrome child chooses to abort?” Desanctis asked.
Conservative radio host and author Eric Metaxas took to Twitter on Wednesday to voice his disgust.
“Iceland is eradicating Down’s syndrome through selective abortions,” Metaxas wrote. “May we do the same for those WE deem ‘unacceptable’? Who is that for US?”
On Tuesday, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas posted a tweet saying that children with Down syndrome should be “cherished, not ended.”