Among the most despicable thing Nazi Germany did was kill off people who were thought of as undesirable–including the disabled.
Sarah Palin has warned that Iceland is trying to eliminate one kind of disabled person from their country: those with Down Syndrome. “To try to snuff out a life, in the name of building a perfect race… hearkens back to Nazi Germany,” Palin said, according to Fox News.
The former Alaskan governor has a son with Down Syndrome, now an eight-year-old, named Trig. She argues that while her son may look and speak differently, that’s what makes him special, and he makes the world a more diverse place.
The CBS report Palin responded to revealed that nearly 100 percent of pregnant women choose to terminate their pregnancy after receiving positive tests for Down Syndrome. Some women in Iceland do give birth to children with Down Syndrome, often after receiving a negative abnormality test.
The test involves an analysis of a pregnant woman’s blood, age, and an ultrasound of the baby. It can produce false positives as well as false negatives, meaning children may be aborted who did not have Down Syndrome at all.
With a population of roughly 300,000, Iceland has one to two babies born with Down Syndrome per year. Though the US population is much larger, Americans have roughly 5.6 children with Down Syndrome every year, per 300,000 people. In total, 6,000 Americans with Down Syndrome are born each year.
Down Syndrome is a spectrum disorder, where a child can be born with little disability, or extreme disability, according to the National Down Syndrome Society. The disability’s many facets are manageable, and most people with Down Syndrome live long and happy lives.
No child is born to this world who will not face challenges. Just because the challenges Trig faced in life were high doesn’t mean he lacks a purpose. God put him on this earth for a reason. Parents who learn their child will face these challenges need to be supported, and to trust in God.
The staff at the Iceland’s Landspitali University Hospital say they try to offer neutral counseling. One mother who was told her child very likely had Down Syndrome explained the counseling did help her decide to abort her child. She explained, “It was not pressure, but they told me that most women did [get an abortion]… It did affect me maybe a little bit.”
These expecting Icelandic parents may not understand how manageable Down Syndrome has become. Thanks to recent medical advances, the average life expectancy for people with Down Syndrome is 60 years old. In 1983, it was only 25 years. Some people born with Down Syndrome become capable adults who work, make their own decisions, and vote. All enrich the lives of their parents and all those around them.
Sarah Palin suggests something about Icelandic culture is deeply uncompassionate. She said, “Life matters and love matters and who are we without love and acceptance?”
Instead of murdering an innocent life, parents should be given the knowledge to move past their fears about their child. Parents should be encouraged to overcome expectations for the child they thought they’d have, and then prepare for the child who will arrive, so they can unite as a happy and loving family.