Throughout the Bible, God often chooses the most lowly people and the most humble places for the greatest of miracles. God chose David, the weak shepherd boy, to slay the monstrous Philistine, Goliath. God chose Moses, who was born a slave, to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. And when Jesus Christ came into the world, He was born not in a mansion, but in a manger. God delights in using the most humble of circumstances for His most amazing work.
This same principle holds true in our world today. God calls us to care for His children who are viewed as outcasts by society, such as the poor, the sick, the disabled, and the elderly. In God’s eyes, the value of a human being is not dependent on social status, physical beauty, mental ability, or any other worldly feature. God created all human beings in His image and likeness, and all human beings are worthy of love for that reason.
Unfortunately, our brothers and sisters with Down syndrome are not always treated with the proper love and respect they deserve, and some people are seeking to rid them from the world entirely.
Discrimination at Diagnosis
Down syndrome can be diagnosed in unborn children as early as 9 weeks gestational age. While these tests can be helpful by providing parents time to prepare for their child with Down syndrome, the tests are typically used for a different plan: abortion. Sadly, the overwhelming majority of children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. The United States, which has one of the lowest Down syndrome abortion rates, is still at a staggering 67%. That rate is 77% in France, and nearly 100% in Iceland and Denmark.
Additionally, many countries have legislation specifically to increase the number of children with Down syndrome who are aborted. For example, Iceland’s abortion ban is at 16 weeks gestation age under normal circumstances. However, abortion is legal well past 16 weeks if the child has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. Most countries have similar legislation, granting parents extra opportunities to abort their child if he/she has Down syndrome.
The Unborn are Human
Some abortion advocates argue that these abortion procedures are moral and necessary because they do not end a human life. In an interview with CBS News, Dr. Helga Sol Olafsdottir said, “We don’t look at abortion as a murder. We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication.”
Olafsdottir’s claim that an unborn child with Down syndrome is “a thing” and “a possible life” lacks any rational grounding. It should go without saying that an essential prerequisite for having Down syndrome is the existence of life. Inanimate objects cannot have Down syndrome. Individual body parts, such as arms, organs, and parts of a mother’s uterus cannot have Down syndrome either. Only distinct living organisms can have Down syndrome.
Some pro-choice health professionals brag that Iceland and Denmark have used abortion to nearly eradicate Down syndrome. But why is this something to be proud of? No rational person would brag about lowering the child poverty rate by killing the unborn children of low-income mothers. To lower the poverty rate is an admirable goal, but killing human life is not a moral solution to the issue!
The poverty rate is lowered by helping people in poverty, not by exterminating them. Similarly, rather than increasing the percentage of children with Down syndrome who are killed, we should strive to increase our support for these children and their parents, who are often frightened and confused. Supporting a child with Down syndrome is certainly different and more challenging than raising most other children, and many of these parents could use our help and support. We need to empower them. We need to tell them they are strong enough to support their child. And we must help them to see their child as God sees them.
God’s Loving Plan
God does not see these children as “things” that can be disposed of. He does not see these children as being any less worthy of life than anyone else. Nor does He see them as being less worthy of love than anyone else. God sees every child with Down syndrome as a person of infinite worth. He sees each of them as a human being, for whom He has a special plan. And He sees them as one who will bring goodness into the world and enrich the lives of others in a unique way that nobody else can.
We must answer God’s call to care for those on the margins. We must encourage our society to choose life over death. And we must empower parents to choose love over fear.