By now the report recently published by CBS news regarding Iceland’s eradication of down syndrome births has been well circulated. Social media and other reporting networks have responded with varying positions on the article, the statistics, and the country’s approach to the disorder and the lives affected by it. Though very small and of little impact amidst the chorus of voices on either side of the surrounding debate, I feel compelled to add my whisper.
I don’t have a child with down syndrome. I have no doubt that raising a child with it is a role of immeasurable self-sacrifice and I don’t claim to be able to relate to the corresponding sufferings or trials. But whether or not I can relate, my heart breaks at the alarming statistics that CBS unveiled and what they mean for the sanctity of human life in our world today.
According to the CBS Report, Iceland is among the most notable countries for their statistics to nearly eradicate down syndrome births, though many countries (including the United States) are not too far behind. It is not by means of medical advances toward a cure that Iceland has been able to trim their statistic to only a few births with the abnormality in a year, but because of a cultural pressure to abort down syndrome pregnancies if the abnormality is detected and therefore eliminate the continuation of the pregnancy to birth. The country does not require a pre-birth down syndrome screening, but it does require that pregnant women are made aware of the ability to have one. CBS reports 80-85 percent of pregnant women opting for the testing and of them nearly 100 percent choosing to terminate the pregnancy if results indicate a presence of the chromosomal abnormality.
My heart weeps at these startling statistics and their representation of our value of human life. My heart weeps for the many mothers who have aborted their child and for all of the precious and innocent little lives who have never even met this world. My heart weeps at the depravity of our generation and for the grim outlook of our future as the moral fiber of the culture unravels.
My heart weeps at the lies and justifications that we so easily believe.
I was tempted to begin this post by illuminating all of the beautiful things that I’ve experienced from people with down syndrome – their unhindered joy, their innocent perception, their eagerness to embrace people and life. But I quickly realized that there is more to the argument than the goodness of the lives that need to be advocated for and protected. If we say that we should save down syndrome lives simply because of the goodness and the beautiful qualities of those lives, then we are advocating for a society that selects good and worthy lives to live and condemns those that do not meet such standards. We are advocating for the standards of what is good and worthy to be determined by a flawed and depraved society.
Therefore, the real foundation of advocating for down syndrome lives is not their inherent beauty (though that indeed is there!) but is the indisputable truth that ALL LIVES MATTER. Whether or not lives matter cannot be measured by which lives we as societies deem worthy to survive, but can only be measured by the foundational worth in life that God has created according to His beautiful and sovereign plan.
Down syndrome lives matter because they are crafted by God.
Maybe it is the beautiful innocence and joy of those lives that is why God has planned to bring them into our communities, families, and cultures – but we will likely never know the details of His purposes. What we do know is that He created them, and therefore they are precious.
In countries and societies with increasing pressure to evaluate the value of life based on self-proclaimed or culturally imposed standards, it is up to us as individuals to stand for life. It is up to us to advocate for the beauty of God’s creation and to create a stronger and tangible voice to speak against the strength of the deadly chorus of our culture.
I am just one small voice, but perhaps with many small voices a faint whisper of truth will shine through the pervasive curtain of lies.
I am just one small voice, but I advocate for life.
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