By: V4 Agency
The fact that only 18 Down syndrome babies were born last year highlights a disturbing tendency: a growing number of people decide to abort their babies once they find out about the genetic disorder. In many cases, parents are pressured by doctors or society.
Very few, only 18 children, were born with Down syndrome in Denmark last year. Michelle Sie Whitten, president of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, believes that the underlying reason is the eugenic movement, which has gained massive popularity among people. In view of this, mothers tend to abandon their children if they are found to have Down syndrome during the prenatal testing, preferring a healthy baby instead.
Ms Whitten says clinicians who recommend abortion are good people, yet they are generally “unaware”. They don’t know, for instance, that there is a better way than aborting babies with Down syndrome. She speaks from personal experience, as the mother of a Down syndrome child, who was advised by doctors to have her baby aborted in week 30 of her pregnancy.
In fact, life for those with Down syndrome has improved considerably. Their general life expectancy has increased, as people with this particular genetic disorder can live up to 60 years, a far higher number than the previous average of 28 years of age. Many of the condition’s worst side-effects have become curable, which makes life with Down syndrome much less terrible than most would think.
Ms Whitten says fighting for people with Down syndrome doesn’t have to be an emotionally charged abortion debate. She notes that her foundation is both pro-life and pro-choice, but the same time “we’re pro-information and anti-eugenics”, she adds.
Since 2004, women in Denmark have been offered free prenatal testing for Down syndrome, resulting in a drop in the rate of children born with the disorder. Data by the Danish National Board of Health also shows that “95% of pregnant women whose fetus is found to have a chromosomal abnormality opt for an abortion.”
It’s not just Denmark that struggles with this problem. In many cases parents in Poland also choose to abort their Down syndrome babies, and doctors in the UK frequently offer abortion to mothers if their babies have Down syndrome. The alarming phenomenon has been reported by several mothers who were offered the option of abortion even during the final weeks of their pregnancy, simply because of their babies’ Down syndrome.