People with Down’s Syndrome Face Extinction in Iceland

Iceland is on the verge of eradicating Down’s Syndrome from its population as figures reveal an alarming decline in babies being born with the chromosomal abnormality.

With a population of 330,000 Iceland is now witness to a mere one or two Down’s Syndrome births per year. The reason for this disturbingly low figure is not a sudden slowdown in prevalence of Down’s Syndrome but the availability, and increased uptake, of pre-natal tests designed to identify the abnormality. Around 85% of pregnant women take the test and this, coupled with the nation’s abortion laws which allow for abortion after 16 weeks in the case of foetal abnormality (which includes Down’s Syndrome), means that individuals with Down’s Syndrome will soon be extinct in Iceland.

This reality has many people reeling, yet it is simply another unsurprising effect of the culture of abortion, where certain human beings are deemed dispensable because other human beings deem them unfit or unworthy to live; reducing them to mere commodities for easy dispensation and denying their intrinsic worth as a unique and precious human being who deserves the right to live.

According to an article by Jianhua Wu and Joan K Morris in the European Journal of Human Genetics the number of babies born with Down’s Syndrome in England and Wales halved between 1938 and 2010, revealing a disturbing downward trend. This trend could continue with advances in techniques for detecting abnormalities in unborn babies. In truth, the UK could follow Iceland in eventually eradicating the prevalence of people with Down’s Syndrome through abortion.

And while raising a child with Down’s Syndrome has its undoubted challenges, there is absolutely no doubt that society must take responsibility to ensure all human beings are welcome in the world, no matter their size, perceived value or worth, or if they happen to have one extra chromosome. Governments have a role to play in ensuring support for families while there are a number of Down’s Syndrome support groups, particularly in the UK, offering invaluable help and assistance.

Marguerite Reardon, a senior writer at CNET, told the Catholic News Agency what it was like for her having a child with Down’s Syndrome: “It’s true my daughter has some developmental delays. And she receives a bevy of therapies through Early Intervention to help keep her on track, but she’s also wonderful. She has a twinkle in her eye and an infectious grin that makes even the most miserable looking people on the subway smile when she stares them down. When she puts her head on my shoulder as I rock her to sleep each night, my heart melts no matter what kind of day I’ve had.”
“I do think she is more special than other children, but it’s not because she has Down syndrome. It’s because I’m a completely biased and doting mother who thinks no one could possibly be as adorable, bright or funny as my own child,” she wrote. “And her name is Margot.”