Approximately 582 babies are born with Down syndrome in Canada every year. Unfortunately, we have no data on the abortion rate of babies with Down syndrome. But if we assume Canadians act similarly to Americans, where 75 per cent of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome through screening are aborted, we can say that there was probably meant to be 2329 children born with Down syndrome last year, but 1747 were killed in the womb. That goes on every year.*
Europe is known to have a very high abortion rate when it comes to Down syndrome. Denmark and Iceland, for example, have nearly total abortion rates after screening. The U.K.’s rate is 90 per cent and France is 77 per cent.
How do these numbers reach such skyrocketing heights? Most parents, when confronted with the news that their preborn child has Down syndrome, have no idea how to react. They can’t imagine what kind of life their child will have or how they will cope and change with it.
They hear the words of the doctor, that their child has a genetic disorder, and begin to believe that it would be better for everyone if the child was never born. The decision is made quickly and out of fear with no time to turn back. They can never know what happiness and fulfillment their child might have had, and the joy that might have brought them too.
Countries that have high Down syndrome abortion rates say they are “curing” people of it.
The definition of cure is ‘to relieve a person (or an animal) of the symptoms of a disease or condition’. The definition of eradication, however, is ‘the complete destruction of something’.
Under which definition would abortion of the disabled fall?
Being killed doesn't improve someone’s livelihood, it destroys it altogether. It's certainly hypocritical to destroy someone because his or her quality of life comes into question.
What if instead of choosing abortion as the ‘cure’, we chose to educate parents instead about what the life of their child can be like? What if we told them the stories of people like Madeline Stuart, a 22-year-old model with Down Syndrome who has made contracts with Vogue, walked down runways around the globe, Mikayla Holmgren the first Miss USA Down Syndrome contestant, and Tim Harris who owns a restaurant, is known for his hugs, and organized a successful fundraiser where he managed to raise $6000 for firefighters.
Parents should know when they’re first told their child has Down Syndrome, that there is the possibility to go above and beyond the despair of the initial diagnosis. There’s room for challenging expectations, personal growth, and love in the midst of the difficulties.
As we build more ramps and elevators and create more access to public places, let us also give the right to life to the disabled, especially in Canada, where we have no restrictions of any kind on abortion.
*These numbers were arrived at by NCLN. The rate of Down syndrome birth is from StatsCan. The average number of births in Canada in the same years studied by StatsCan (2005-2013) was then used with the Down syndrome birth rate to come to 582 total Down syndrome births in a year. Then we assumed a 75% abortion rate, so our number was the one quarter that remained, and the rest is self-explanatory.