Conservative Christian leaders are blasting a news report documenting how Iceland is on the verge of "eradicating" Down syndrome through abortion.
"I have rarely seen a story that so closely resembles Nazi-era eugenics," says Dr. James Dobson, referring to a recent CBS News report that says Iceland's use of prenatal screen tests has virtually eliminated the birth of Down syndrome babies there.
"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."
Helga Sól Ólafsdóttir, counselor Landspítali University Hospital (quoted in CBS News story)
Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, also reacts to the story, saying it's "just one more step down the road of becoming a culture that devalues human life and sees people with disabilities, whether cognitive or physical, as less than everyone else."
The government in Iceland mandates that each pregnant woman be apprised of the availability of tests to determine whether a preborn child has abnormalities, but the tests themselves aren't legally imposed on them. However, an estimated 80 to 85 percent of those women do take the tests – and if a medical condition such as Down syndrome is detected, a woman can abort their child after 16 weeks.
The result in Iceland, according to the news report, is an average of one or two Down syndrome children born each year in a population of around 330,000. The tests are only about 85 percent accurate, meaning it is likely that healthy babies are being aborted.
"The Bible tells us that 'we are all fearfully and wonderfully made,'" says Dobson, quoting a passage from Psalm 139. "I know countless parents who would say the same of their own children with Down syndrome.
"A child born with a chromosome defect is a child made in God's image, fully capable of living a happy, productive, and healthy life," adds the respected author and advocate for life. "They are as capable of giving and receiving love just as you and I are. They deserve a chance to live – and those of us in the Church must speak out on their behalf."
Iceland isn't alone in high abortion rates for Down syndrome babies. In the U.S. the estimated rate is 67 percent, in France it's 77 percent, and in Denmark 98 percent. Nance offers a solution.
"Talk to families who have children with Down syndrome or other family members with Down syndrome," she tells OneNewsNow. "They recognize that these are essential parts of their family and that they bring their own love and importance to that family."
She also challenges the statement that Iceland is close to eliminating Down syndrome. "Iceland is not eradicating Down syndrome," says Nance. "They're destroying babies with Down syndrome."
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