Down Syndrome


HAPPY World Down Syndrome Day / Welt Down Syndrom Tag #HAPPYDAY Pharrell Williams

Most of you have probably heard or read the reports trumpeting the “eradication” of Down syndrome in Iceland). The problem is that what is being termed “eradicating” the “problem” actually means that those with Down syndrome are being put to death. The celebratory language is all too similar to the way we once spoke of wiping out malaria by killing infected mosquitoes. But of course children in the womb are not mosquitoes; they are human beings, love and willed by God. Imagine saying that we had eradicated malaria by killing every person who had it!

A low point in the article linked above comes at the end, when a proponent of aborting babies who likely have Down syndrome is quoted as saying,

“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 is gray.”

Well, pardon me for considering murder to be so black and white! One minute a heart is beating heart, the next minute it’s not. The “thing” that you ended is a human life. Calling such a child a “possible life” is scientifically dishonest. A beating heart does not exist in something that is possibly alive; he or she is alive. No linguistic gymnastics can legitimately describe the situation otherwise.

Further, “preventing suffering” by killing the patient is an illustration of the twisted logic of the culture of death. Death is the increasing being proposed as the solution to today’s problems. If you—or more perniciously, “we”—decide that your life is not worth living, we will kill you and call ourselves compassionate for doing so.

The greatest tragedy in all of this is that we veto the gift of God. Some of God’s gifts come in paradoxical packages; those with disabilities and special needs have much to teach us and many ways to bless us. Without them we may never reach our full humanity, which is meant to include compassion, humility, reverence, and respect. Not one of us is perfect. All of us have difficulties that require support from others. When we forget or reject this we lose an important aspect of our humanity: interdependence.

Iceland is not alone in this; much of the rest of the world has also refused to accept the disabled into our communities.

. . .

What about those who aborted their babies? We as a Church cannot avoid our responsibility to declare the dignity and worth of the disabled. More than ever, our world needs the Church’s testimony, for this 90% statistic is a startling one. But even as we witness to the dignity of the disabled and to the wrongness of abortion, we must also embrace those who chose abortion and now struggle with having made that decision. We are called to reconcile and to bring healing to all who have faced this crisis and fallen. Many were pressured and felt alone and afraid. We offer this embrace through confession and through healing ministries like Project Rachel, which offers counseling, spiritual direction, support groups, and prayer services. Even as the Church speaks out against abortion, she must also reconcile those who have fallen under the weight of these heavy issues.

Iceland Is Not Alone in “Freezing Out” the Disabled

Culture of Death

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