15 May Too Costly?
by Alannah Hurley
Because of technological advances, expecting mothers are now able to tell before birth if their child will have Down syndrome. “The abortion rate in the United States for babies with Down syndrome, sometimes known as trisomy 21, is about 50 percent and is likely to increase as prenatal testing becomes more available. As bad as that is, in Iceland, not one child with Down syndrome was born between 2008 and 2012. In Denmark, an estimated 98 percent of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome are being aborted—deemed useless.”
The “uselessness” of a child with Down syndrome was not the only concern addressed when “Patrick Willems, a pediatrician and CEO of a Belgian lab (Gendia) that offers the Harmony Nip-test for Down syndrome on the internet, stated that ‘Preventing the birth of 50 babies with Down syndrome will offset the costs of fully implementing the Nipt into Dutch public healthcare.’” These infants are not only considered “useless” but “insignificant” when considering medical advancements.
A child with Down syndrome is said to cost about 1-2 million in dollars or euros, to raise. Children with autism, schizophrenia, and low IQ also have added costs to raise. It is very possible that in the future, these conditions could also be determined by early pregnancy screenings. If people already abort those with Down syndrome because they have the technology and means to do so, what’s to stop them from continuing abortions for other “costly” or “useless” conditions?
Chuck Colson, a political and religious leader and founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, raises the question that “measuring people by what they can do or contribute to society is dangerous. If someone can be called ‘useless,’ such as a child with Down syndrome, what’s to keep “society” from deciding to eliminate anyone deemed not to have a life worth living?”
The answer is simple. It is to believe in the moral concept of the sanctity of life. “The concept of the sanctity of life is the belief that all human beings, at any and every stage of life, in any and every state of consciousness or self-awareness, of any and every race, color, ethnicity, level of intelligence, religion, language, gender, character, behavior, physical ability/disability, potential, class, social status, etc., of any and every particular quality of relationship to the viewing subject, are to be perceived as persons of equal and immeasurable worth and of inviolable dignity and therefore must be treated in a manner commensurate with this moral status.”
Photograph courtesy of Wallybird Photography.