You may have noticed last week when your newsfeed became saturated with the staggering proclamation that Iceland is “virtually eliminating Down Syndrome,” thanks to prenatal testing.
As Faithit previously reported, nearly 100 percent of unborn babies with Down Syndrome in Iceland are aborted. Though it is not required, expectant mothers are encouraged to undergo prenatal testing that identifies any possible genetic abnormalities.
Like many of us, Becky Carey’s social feeds were plastered with the announcement of Iceland’s Down Syndrome abortion rate and goal of eliminating an entire people group. It was her daughter Tessa’s sixth birthday, and the news hit home.
“Six years ago today I sat in my hospital bed, isolating myself from reality while I digested the news of my daughter’s surprise birth diagnosis of Down syndrome. Like many unsuspecting parents, our world was rocked. When we were offered prenatal testing while I was pregnant, we declined knowing we would not change anything about our pregnancy, and that our arms and hearts would lovingly welcome our child.”
In a blog post called “Where in the World Is Down Syndrome Going?” Becky says that knowing how much they already loved their child didn’t make receiving the diagnosis less difficult.
“We had no idea what to expect. We were left with our own drawn up versions of what we thought Down syndrome was based on, what we could remember as kids—which was basically nothing.”
Thankfully, Becky and her husband had a kind and compassionate doctor that walked them through some of the basics of having a baby with Down Syndrome. Her unbiased and professional information was all they had in those moments. She reassured them that Tessa would live a full and wonderful life, and that everything may not be how they planned, but it certainly was going to be alright.
“I can only imagine what these parents in Iceland are told their lives will be like with a child like mine, and how untrue what they’re told really is. Conflicting, outdated and biased opinions about Down syndrome as a whole. But you know what? It is happening right here, too. The horrific diagnosis stories I have been told by mothers here in America continue to blow my mind.”
Though Iceland’s Down Syndrome abortion rate is staggering at 100 percent, many countries are not far behind in their efforts to “eradicate” Down Syndrome.
Just to clarify, they’re not actually putting an end to the 47th chromosome. They’re just eliminating—killing—anyone who is believed to have it. Actress Patricia Heaton dropped some serious truth on the matter on Twitter last week:
Holland is expected to be “Down Syndrome free” by 2030. Denmark and Great Britain have taken on similar statistics with Down Syndrome abortion rates ranging anywhere from 90-98 percent.
America, too, ranks among these nations. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the U.S. average for Down Syndrome termination rates falls somewhere between 67 and 90 percent.
“I wonder if doctors and parents saw another side of Down syndrome—the human side—would the percentage decrease?”
Becky’s concern goes beyond just the decision to terminate based solely on the diagnosis—which has not always proven to be accurate.
“Let’s not forget about the individuals with Down syndrome who are alive. What does this message of ‘eliminating Down syndrome’ say to them? That they don’t matter either? It sure sounds that way.”
“As parents, we spend a lot of time fighting and advocating for our children. Much to our dismay, we often seek to prove our children are capable of so much more than the limitations society places on them. We push for inclusion in school and the workplace, we fight for health care coverage and we encourage people to see their value. Now we fight for their right to walk on this earth.”
“You do not need a heart of gold to raise a child with Down syndrome. But you do need an open mind, the courage to embrace something unfamiliar and the belief that each life has value.”
A mother of three, Becky admits that parenting her daughter with Down Syndrome is not easy. But then again, what about parenting is?
“Is raising her easy? Not always. Raising my spirited 4-year-old without Down syndrome isn’t easy. Helping to parent a stepchild also isn’t easy. There are few things about parenting that come with ease. Period.”
Becky says the hardest part about having a child with Down Syndrome isn’t the diagnosis or disorder itself, but rather the “annoyance” of constantly having to justify Tessa’s right to be here.
While Iceland and surrounding countries are “on pace” to “eliminate” Down Syndrome, Becky says it’s time we focus our efforts on sharing our world, and our hearts—which are absolutely big enough for everyone. That includes those with Down Syndrome.