Why does our society destroy 90% of those with Down Syndrome?

Updated with a great video at the bottom, courtesy of Marie

See Life Training Institute Blog: Down Syndrome, Fear, and a Young Man’s Hat.

My friend and founder of Cobb Pregnancy Services Ogden Tabb told me how after his daughter Alison was born with DS and he and his wife became pregnant with their third child the doctor was recommending amniocentesis. When Ogden asked him why the doctor answered, “So you can decide whether you wish to abort the child or not if it has Down syndrome.” He looked across the room at his daughter Alison and said, “So if my next child is like that beautiful, healthy, loving little girl over there you are offering me the option of killing it?” That was all the inspiration he needed to start what has become one of the greatest pregnancy centers in the country.

I previously wrote about prenatal testing for Down Syndrome and one of our World Vision sponsor children who has it .  I’m glad she was conceived in Honduras and not the U.S., or she’d probably be long dead.sindy.jpg

This topic reminds me of a piece I did on Moral Schizophrenia:

I can’t help but think about the bizarre extremes our society goes to when it comes to the disabled. Consider all the positive and noble things done for the disabled:

  • Handicapped parking spaces, accessibility to buildings, etc.
  • Celebration of their accomplishments in events like the Special Olympics
  • Countless technological aids to help them use computers and work
  • Fund raisers and ministries to find cures and to provide care and encouragement

Yet what is society’s general attitude towards unborn humans who may be disabled when born? The current climate is that it is OK, and often preferable, to kill them before they are born. For example, abortion occurs roughly 90% of the time in pregnancies where Down Syndrome is diagnosed. Some babies are even aborted for correctable problems like club feet or cleft palates.

Jocylen Elder, former Surgeon General of the U.S. said abortion “has had an important and positive public-health effect” because it reduced “the number of children afflicted with severe defects.” She pointed out that “the number of Down Syndrome infants in Washington state in 1976 was 64 percent lower than it would have been without legal abortion.” She meant this as a victory of sorts, but what message does this send to the disabled and their families?

Of course we don’t wish medical problems on anyone. There is always an element of tragedy when they occur. Yet what about all the joy and life lessons they bring? And disabled people are less likely to commit suicide, so they aren’t necessarily less happy. We may rationalize that we are “helping” them, but who are we really trying to help?

Parting thoughts:

  • How long will it be until insurance companies pressure people to abortpotentially disabled humans?
  • If autism could be detected in utero as Down Syndrome is, how many fewer autistic people would be with us?
  • I know several people who were encouraged by their doctors to have abortions because problems were suspected. Yet the children in question are alive and healthy!

5 thoughts on “Why does our society destroy 90% of those with Down Syndrome?”

  1. Thanks for posting this, Neil, and the link to the article – I’m glad he mentioned George Will. I remember reading that editorial when it was published in 2005 about Jon (for some reason, I thought it was his brother who had Down’s Syndrome, but I guess it was his son). I always think of his talking about Jon when this issue comes up. It is heartbreaking that such a staggeringly high percentage of these children are killed. ): We do indeed live in a morally schizophrenic world.


  2. Today it’s Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy.

    Tomorrow it’s BRCA1, obesity, heart disease, or ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease). As I keep saying – let’s abort Stephen Hawking; it’s science!

    …okay, rant time. I have one autoimmune disease, might be developing another (rheumatoid arthritis), have a great family history of cancer, and still think that none of that makes my life less worthwhile. I’ve known people who died far too early – several of my law school classmates died in their twenties, as but one example – and I don’t think that, if we were to know that they would have died young, that the best thing for them would be to have been created and conceived, but never born.

    Abortion doesn’t stop people from dying young of a tragic illness; it just kills them when they are even younger.


  3. As my first grandchild, born this past February, is a Downs child, I can say that I still feel totally blessed and in awe of her presence. My daughter and her husband are still beside their own selves with joy. I can’t imagine any child likely to have a better life. How sad to know that some might be repulsed by their own child because of something like this. Would any parent of a disabled or “imperfect” child prefer better? Of course. So what?


  4. My downs daughter is 22. Not only did she change my life, she’ll blow most Christians out the water with her prayer life. She talks to Jesus all the time and He answers. Any mention of sickness or any other maladies and the hands go up and the prayer begins. She sets a standard that’s hard to follow and I picture her often on a throne in heaven with the exaltation she deserves.


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