A news report came out this month saying that Down syndrome has been virtually eliminated from the population of Iceland due to abortion. Stories are circulating that prenatal tests are being mandated and that abortions are being required if a mother finds out that her child will have Down Syndrome.
The fact is that since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the early 2000’s, the vast majority of women (close to 100 percent) who received a positive test for Down Syndrome terminated their pregnancy voluntarily.
The difference in the two stories is that in the false story, the government mandates tests and abortions. The reality is that mothers are choosing to kill their own children which I find much more disturbing (Proverbs 6:16-17.)
When parents find out they are having a baby, the question often follows whether they want a boy or girl. The typical response is, “It doesn’t matter as long as it’s healthy.” So here is my question… What if the baby isn’t healthy? What if there will be ongoing medical issues? What if the child will never live independently? Does “quality of life” make the difference in a child’s value? I don’t want to minimize the disappointment and worries of parents, but if I find out my unborn child has Down Syndrome or any other disability, does that give me the right to choose whether that life will have purpose and meaning?
God says in Psalm 139:13-14 that a child in the womb is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God made no qualifiers to that! It isn’t just the beautiful, the healthy, the strong that are wonderfully made. Children with disabilities are too! If we could try to see people through God’s eyes, we would see a different picture. We see a child with limitations, who struggles to do things that “typical” children do, who needs long term care, and who is costly to the health care system. God sees a child who teaches us lessons about priorities in life, who loves unconditionally, who finds joy in simple things, and who remains a pure soul. We see a child with an earthly life of burdens where God sees a child with eternal life free from burdens.
Initially this news story made me angry, but my anger turned to sadness. Parents in Iceland and throughout the world who murder and dispose of their children either don’t know or don’t care that they are throwing away a precious gift from God. It could be this child who would have brought them closer to their own Father.