Earlier this month, CBS shocked viewers with a biased portrayal of the rampant anti-Life attitudes in Iceland, a nation that aborts almost 100% of babies diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome. Pro-Lifers previously reported on the news of the alarming rate of elective abortion in cases of Down syndrome in Iceland and other Scandinavian countries. Disturbingly, the abortion rate came to light when health officials in other nations said they aspired to follow Iceland’s eugenic policies.
According to the CBS report, Iceland has a population of 330,000 and each year on average only two children are born with Down syndrome. Those rare babies with Down syndrome are seen as evidence of an error in the testing system. The head of the laboratory that conducts 70% of the prenatal screenings in Iceland explains to CBS, “Some of them [the mothers]were low risk in our screening test, so we didn’t find them in our screening.” Live Action notes that “making the birth of a baby with Down syndrome sound like a mistake due to bad testing is only one of many disturbing attitudes in the nation” highlighted in report.
News Busters noted that reporter Elaine Quijano is not entirely to blame for the biased position CBS advertised. News Busters called attention to Quijano’s interview with a 30-year-old woman with Down syndrome in which she asked, “For people who are listening and watching, what would you tell them about people who have Down syndrome?” The woman replied, “They just see Downs. They don’t see me. I want people to see that I am just like everybody else.”
Quijano also interviewed Thordis Ingadottir, whose daughter, Augusta, was born with Down syndrome in 2009. Ingadottir says, “I will hope that she will be fully integrated on her own terms in this society. That’s my dream. Isn’t that the basic needs of life? What kind of society do you want to live in?” This mother’s question begs the further question, why can’t that integration begin before birth?
Even the biased CBS piece acknowledges that “many people born with Down syndrome can live full, healthy lives, with an average lifespan of around 60 years.” Too often, parents are pressured to abort a child against their wishes when a doctor decides the child is “incompatible with Life.” Every year, people with Down syndrome and other genetic abnormalities achieve feats previously thought impossible. Many parents of children with disabilities speak of the unimaginable joy brought to their lives by their child. Support groups for families facing similar challenges can mitigate the difficulties and help them experience the full joy of choosing Life. Pressuring parents to conform to society’s anti-Life standards will result in anything but joy.
Perhaps the most disturbing remarks in the piece come from a counselor who advises mothers who receive a prenatal diagnosis for their babies. When Quijano says some Americans would be confused by the practice of aborting babies with genetic abnormalities “because to them abortion is murder.” The counselor replies glibly, “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… preventing suffering for the child and for the family. And I think that is more right than seeing it as a murder — that’s so black and white. Life isn’t black and white. Life is grey.”
There is no moral ambiguity and nothing “grey” about ending the Life of a child that we view as an inconvenience. Public backlash to the CBS piece has been swift. A moving tweet accompanied by a beautiful picture in reply to CBS advertisement for the disturbing special states: “Don’t share this story without rebuking it. My Uncle isn’t a ‘complication’ to life… he is my best friend. #NotningDownAboutHim” Pro-Life celebrity Patricia Heaton summarized the Pro-Life criticism of the piece tweeting, “Iceland isn’t actually eliminating Down Syndrome. They’re just killing everybody that has it. Big difference. #Downsyndrome #abortion”