CBS News glowed August 15 over news that Down syndrome has disappeared in Iceland. The reason: Virtually all moms there abort the babies whom a prenatal test determines will likely be born with the condition.
“Since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the early 2000s,” reported CBS, “the vast majority of women — close to 100 percent — who received a positive test for Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy” — “terminated” being a euphemism for killing by abortion.
Iceland’s government mandates that all pregnant women be informed about screening for abnormalities, and while it does not require that women actually go through with the testing, the majority opt in — and abort those babies they deem unsuitable to live.
Hulda Hjartardottir, head of the Prenatal Diagnosis Unit at Landspitali University Hospital, was quick to assure CBS News that “babies with Down syndrome are still being born in Iceland. We try to do as neutral counseling as possible, but some people would say that just offering the test is pointing you towards a certain direction.”
Other “progressive” European countries are not far behind Iceland in Down syndrome “termination” rates. As of 2015, France was unburdening itself of 77 percent of potential Down syndrome babies annually, while Denmark has nearly matched Iceland at 98 percent. And in the United Kingdom, 90 percent of women who receive a positive Down syndrome diagnosis “terminate” the lives of their pre-born babies.
Meanwhile, in the United States the estimated abortion rate is around 67 percent (according to statistics between 1995-2011) when Down syndrome is detected.
Commenting on the nearly 100-percent abortion rate for pre-born babies identified as potentially having Down syndrome, geneticist Kari Stefansson said the campaign “reflects 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.” He added that while “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with aspiring to have healthy children … how far we should go in seeking those goals is a fairly complicated decision.”
As for the morality of the “eradication” campaign, Helga Sol Olafsdottir, who counsels expectant mothers who may be carrying a baby with Down syndrome, said that in her country “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.”
But there is an alternative perspective that is being ignored in Iceland’s eradication model. “Iceland sounds like they are proud of the fact that they’ve killed nearly all unborn babies that had an in-utero diagnosis of Down syndrome,” said Peggy Nance of Concerned Women for America. “This is not a medical advancement. This is eugenics and barbarianism at best. These individuals have no less worth than anyone else.”
Added Nance, “What is the next headline going to be? That a certain country has eradicated all females? Oh wait, China has already been down that road. There is no limit to this train of thought of devaluing human life.”
Kristan Hawkins of the pro-life group Students for Life of America told LifeSiteNews.com that “my heart breaks for the innocent babies aborted in Iceland because society has deemed certain people undeserving of life. My children with genetic disabilities are loved and valued the same as my children without. I pray this report will wake up the people of Iceland to the discriminatory killing occurring amongst them. I pray they wake up before even more human beings fall victim to this disgusting mindset.”
Commenting on the CBS report, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson said, “I have rarely seen a story that so closely resembles Nazi-era eugenics.” Added the respected pro-family and pro-life leader, “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. 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.”