Down Syndrome Babies – Life Unworthy of Life?

On August 20, 2014 Richard Dawkins tweeted the following to a person wondering if they could tackle the challenges of raising a child with Down syndrome – “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”

Six days ago, a Yahoo! Parenting article entitled “I Terminated My Baby with Down Syndrome” appeared. The author, writing under the pseudonym Sophie Horan, justified her decision to kill her child by saying:

 My child deserved better than a life of struggle and frustration due to a condition that he or she would never be able to change. Plus, there was no predicting the severity of the disorder — some children with Down Syndrome are able to feed themselves and attend school; others require more urgent and consistent care. Knowing that my husband and I wouldn’t live long enough to provide the necessary long-term care for our child was stressful, to say the least. I did not want him or her to ever feel lonely, lack independence, or be confined to a nursing home when we passed on.

One wonders if she weighed the pain of her child “feeling lonely” versus the pain of a dilation and curettage procedure or burning to death while drowning in potassium chloride.

Is that what’s “better?”

These two cases are not few and far between. Indeed, it would appear as if war has been declared on Down syndrome babies. A 2012 study from the medical journal  Prenatal Diagnosis found that an average of from 61% – 93% of Down Syndrome babies are aborted – and those are just the numbers for the U.S.

Adding to the tragedy is that far from the miserable drain that Down syndrome children are portrayed to be by the culture of death, they are actually a boon to the families privileged enough to share life with them.

As Dr. David A. Prentice said earlier this month while testifying before the Indiana Senate:

Contrast the prevalent attitude about Down syndrome that leads to a lethal diagnosis, with the recent facts about increased life span, health, learning, and especially satisfaction for those with Down syndrome and their families. A recent study by Skotko et al. found that 99% of people with Down syndrome are happy with their lives, 99% of parents said they love their child with Down syndrome, and 97% of brothers/sisters, ages 9-11, said they love their sibling.

The pro-choice movement would have us think that termination of babies with Down syndrome is a form of “mercy killing,” a decision that benefits the parents and spares the child untold suffering. The Yahoo! Parenting piece uses the same logic to justify the anonymous woman’s heartbreaking decision to terminate.

I think it goes without saying that when a culture freely uses logic and terminology eerily similar to the “life unworthy of life” (Lebensunwertes Leben) and “useless eaters” (Unnütze Esser) of 1930’s Germany, we have gone from tipping point to full-blown crisis.

The Prenatal Diagnosis study would seem to indicate that our final solution has already been implemented.

As I mentioned in my inaugural post, I am undertaking a life study of Corrie ten Boom. While many are familiar with her exploits during and after the Second World War, one of her lesser known pursuits was working with mentally ill children.

Ten Boom referred to this work as the “most valuable work of all” and claimed that mentally handicapped people “often understand God’s love better than people who have problems because of their intellectual doubt.” (see In My Father’s House.)

When she was arrested by the Gestapo for rescuing approximately 800 Jews the death camps, her Nazi captors were apoplectic to learn that she also worked with the mentally handicapped. During one fierce interrogation, her captors demanded to know why she engaged in such behavior.

She relates the story in her acclaimed bestseller The Hiding Place:

“Your other activities, Miss ten Boom. What would you like to tell me about them?”

“Other activities? Oh, you mean- you want to know about my church for mentally retarded people!” and I plunged into an eager account of my efforts at preaching to the feeble-minded.

The lieutenant’s eyebrows rose higher and higher. “What a waste of time and energy!” he exploded at last. “If you want converts, surely one normal person is worth all the half-wits in the world!”

I stared into the man’s intelligent blue-gray eyes: true National-Socialist philosophy I thought, tulip bed or no. And then to my astonishment I heard my own voice saying boldly, “May I tell you the truth, Lieutenant Rahms?”

“This hearing, Miss ten Boom, is predicated on the assumption that you will do me that honor.”

“The truth , Sir,” I said, swallowing, “is that God’s viewpoint is sometimes different from ours- so different that we could not even guess at it unless He had given us a Book which tells us such things.”

I knew it was madness to talk this way to a Nazi officer. But he said nothing so I plunged ahead. “In the Bible I learn that God values us not for our strength or our brains but simply because He has made us. Who knows, in His eyes a half-wit may be worth more than a watchmaker. Or – a lieutenant.”

It is appalling to think that the wholesale slaughter of Down syndrome children continues unabated – and history will rightly judge us harshly for not doing more to stop it.

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