Down Syndrome Organization Open to ‘Termination’ of Down Syndrome Kids

How tragic that so many people are blind to the gift of Down syndrome.

A boy with Down syndrome holds a placard while a crowd waits for the Pope’s arrival at the Shrine of Loreto, near Ancona, Italy, on March 25, 2019.
A boy with Down syndrome holds a placard while a crowd waits for the Pope’s arrival at the Shrine of Loreto, near Ancona, Italy, on March 25, 2019. (photo: Tiziana Fabi / AFP via Getty Images)

[Editor’s Note: After the publication of this article, the NDSS stated that “promoting termination ... was not the intent of the page and is certainly not NDSS’ position. As a result, we have edited the web page to align with our position on the issue and to hopefully prevent future misunderstandings.”]

Early detection of cancer can save lives. Or maybe avoid all the hassle and plan for euthanasia.

Expecting a new baby? Learn the sex early so that you can consider if you really want a boy (they tend to be harder to toilet train) or a girl (it’s true what they say about all the drama).

Openly promoting death in the above situations would be horrific on Cancer Awareness or New Parent websites. But for Down syndrome, the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), which purports supporting and celebrating Down syndrome, includes ending their lives among the three reasons to get prenatal genetic testing. They speak with a forked tongue.

According to the Down Syndrome Fact Sheet:

The National Down Syndrome Society is the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome. The National Down Syndrome Society envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming communities.

Singing their praises does not nullify termination of life as an acceptable option under the question: “Why Should I Get a Prenatal Test?”

First, they present mothers not testing:

Some mothers choose to forgo all diagnostic testing because they know that they would continue their pregnancy no matter what and do not want to expose their pregnancy to even the small risk of miscarriage that come with CVS and amniocentesis.

Let us not skip over this. There is a small risk of miscarriage with chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis — the more invasive but more reliable testing as opposed to the non-invasive blood tests. According to the CDC’s website:

The risk from amniocentesis at 15-18 weeks’ gestation is approximately 0.25%- 0.50% (1/400-1/200), and the miscarriage risk from CVS is approximately 0.5%-1.0% (1/200-1/100).

Is that a small risk? How many millions of lottery tickets are sold with drastically lower odds of winning? And what parent would put their living children in a situation where they risk death under the same odds?

Why put a child’s life on the line to check for possible genetic anomalies? People are saying they are willing to risk ending the life of a potentially healthy baby to find out if the baby has genetic issues so that they could end that life. It has become a search and destroy mission with fatalities of otherwise healthy babies along the way.

Despite the slight risk of the baby dying, NDSS gives reasons why they think a mother should undergo prenatal testing in case their baby has that extra number 21 chromosome which causes Down syndrome.

One is to do research and adjust to the new diagnosis. A second is that it gives parents time to plan to have their baby adopted. They point out, “There is a long waiting list of families in the United States ready to adopt a child with Down syndrome.”

The third reason is what’s most shocking:

TERMINATION: Some parents want to have a prenatal diagnosis so that they can discontinue their pregnancy. Parents should discuss this option with their obstetrician.

Why did they list “termination” as a reason to test? Why should parents discuss termination with their doctor? Dr. Jérôme Lejeune, the geneticist who discovered the cause of Down syndrome as being an extra 21st chromosome, was vehemently against aborting these babies. He staked his reputation on it — with backlash. Yet, an organization claiming to support Down syndrome thinks it is okay to matter-of-factly list it as an acceptable option. They surely do not think people with Down syndrome are worthy of the same respect as others, since termination of their very lives is listed as an option simply for being who they were created to be.

I recently interviewed Christi Hockel Davenport, who has Down syndrome and spoke at the Walk for Life West Coast.

“Being smart is not always what makes people happy,” she said. “Love and being loved is what makes people happy. I want people to see me as an exception: I was allowed to live. How many times do you hear people say they are against abortion “except” — and then they give exceptions? I want people to know who I am: a person with Down syndrome who is loving and being loved.”

How did this become so socially acceptable? In the U.S., according to the NDSS, about 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born each year. However, the United States also has an estimated termination rate for Down syndrome of 67% (1995-2011). In France it’s 77% (2015) and in Denmark, 98% (2015). For many years, Iceland has been shooting for a 100% termination rate.

Despite the high abortion rate, hundreds of families in the U.S. are on waiting lists to adopt them, understanding what a gift they are. Results from a study published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics found:

  • 99% said they were happy with their lives
  • 97% liked who they are
  • 96% liked how they look
  • 86% indicated they could make friends easily
  • 4% expressed sadness about their life.

How tragic that so many people are blind to the gift of Down syndrome. Even more tragic is that an organization claiming to celebrate them, would suggest “termination.” Shame on them.

Pope Francis blesses a child with Down syndrome May 18, 2013, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

Down Syndrome Awareness, and Prayers for Haiti (March 16)

Looking ahead to Down Syndrome Awareness Day on March 21, developmental psychologist and mother Mary O’Callaghan sheds light on the joys and challenges facing families who receive trisomy-21 diagnoses. Also, Father Louis Merosne, pastor of the Cathedral of St. Anne in Anse-à-Veau, roughly 80 miles west of Port-au-Prince, describes the fear and the faith of the Haitian people.